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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 1, 2019 06:37 PM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb
To: All House members
Subject: Demographic impact statements
African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at more than five times the rate of white people. Pennsylvania has the second highest rate of Latinx imprisonment in the nation.

The Commonwealth’s rate of Latinx imprisonment is more than double the national average of white imprisonment. According to the NAACP, if African Americans and Latinx were incarcerated at the same rate as white people in the U.S., prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40 percent.

While Pennsylvania has had significant success in decreasing the Commonwealth’s prison population in recent years, truly meaningful prison reform cannot be achieved without acknowledgment of racial disparities in our criminal justice system, and focused attention on reduction of those disparities.

To directly address this issue, I have authored legislation that gives legislators the ability to request the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to prepare a demographic impact statement for any legislative measure that would amend the Crimes Code or Judicial Code prior to its final consideration by the Senate or House of Representatives.

Demographic impact statements are a tool for lawmakers to evaluate potential disparities of proposed legislation to provide an opportunity for policymakers to consider alternative approaches that do not exacerbate them. Similar to fiscal impact statements, they assist legislators in detecting unforeseen policy ramifications.

It is time we recognize that there are financial and moral costs to maintaining biased, unfair standards in our prison system.

Your consideration is greatly appreciated!

Introduced as HB1660