HARRISBURG — Today, the Pennsylvania state Senate passed S.B.913, legislation that overhauls the probation system in the commonwealth. The ACLU of Pennsylvania opposes the legislation, saying that the bill fails to stop the practice of sending people to jail for probation violations and that people in poverty could be stuck on probation indefinitely.
The following statement can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
“The need to meaningfully reform Pennsylvania’s broken probation system is real. Unfortunately, recent efforts by lawmakers in Harrisburg to address this crisis have led to watered-down legislation that would only make the system worse. Today’s legislation shares the same flaw.
“If this bill becomes law, probation will continue to be the destructive system that it is today. We urge legislators to abandon S.B.913 and instead work towards meaningful reform.”
The following can be attributed to Elizabeth Randol, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
“This legislation does nothing to address one of the most important elements of meaningful probation reform: capping the amount of time a person can be sentenced to probation. Pennsylvania is one of just a handful of states that does not limit probation sentences. Instead, S.B.913 would create a convoluted and exclusionary process for early termination of probation and would allow judges to keep people on probation indefinitely, disproportionately punishing people living in poverty who cannot afford to pay restitution. This is a missed opportunity to interrupt the vicious cycle of probation that feeds our mass incarceration crisis, rather than restoring probation to its original purpose—as an alternative to incarceration.”
You can find more information about S.B.913 here.