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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 1, 2021 05:39 PM
From: Representative Amen Brown
To: All House members
Subject: Bringing an End to Violent Crime in Pennsylvania
The violence in my home city of Philadelphia is an ongoing tragedy.  The fact is that between 2019 to 2020, homicides increased by 35%, and aggravated assaults are up 146%. Not to mention other dangerous crimes like burglaries, armed robberies and thefts are also on the rise here in the City.  Between January 1st and today, there are more than 77 murders in Philadelphia - a 40% increase from this same time last year.  Sadly, by the time you read this memo, the number of murders will be even higher.  The senseless lost of lives in our cities must be stopped and we must implement measures to address this public health crisis.


The overwhelming majority of these violent crimes are committed with illegal firearms.  Prior convicted felons are illegally obtaining firearms to commit violence on our streets, feeling that if they are caught and prosecuted, their consequences are minimal.  The terrorizing of our neighborhoods must stop and those committing these crimes must be held accountable.  


For that reason, I am proposing that any previously convicted felon who is found to be in possession of an illegal firearm will be subject to progressively stronger sentences  and a minimum term of incarceration. It must be known that they will be held accountable for their actions and will not have a fast release.  In addition, these offenders must presumptively not be eligible for bail unless they can clearly demonstrate that their release before trial will not threaten the safety of the public.  I propose that these interventions be installed for four years before sunsetting, in order to stabilize our communities currently roiling in senseless violence.


It is hard to witness what is happening in my community, as well as hear the fear that my constituents possess. Members in my community are in constant fear of their safety due to the constant violence that is taking place in our neighborhoods. This bill is not designed to impose mandatory minimums on nonviolent crimes, such as drug possession offenses - as this has been a point of contention before in relation to mandatory minimums. This bill is identifying a specific, narrow, demonstrably highly violent category of offenders to stop those offenders from reoffending and deter those who might otherwise commit violent crimes.  I believe that building up our neighborhoods and economically developing our communities starts by making them safe.

Please join me in taking this important first step in stopping the violence in Philadelphia and around the state of Pennsylvania.

Introduced as HB1587