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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: September 5, 2023 11:37 AM
From: Representative Tim Briggs
To: All House members
Subject: Felony Murder
In Pennsylvania, a person can be found guilty of violating Section 2502(b) (Murder of the second degree) of Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and thereby be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole (oftentimes referred to as “felony-murder”) without committing, intending to commit, or having knowledge of the murder committed.  
Currently, in Pennsylvania’s prison system, approximately 1,100 individuals are serving this sentence.  Of this total, 700 people have served more than 20 years of their sentence, with 300 of these individuals over the age of 60.    
Additionally, this issue disproportionally affects Black and Latino communities, with one recent study finding that individuals representing these groups were twelve times more likely to be convicted of felony-murder than their white counterparts. 

While several states have recognized this injustice and have started reforming their felony-murder rule, our Commonwealth not only retains the felony-murder rule, but remains one of only two states that mandate life without parole sentences for anyone convicted of felony-murder.
I will be introducing legislation to change Pennsylvania’s sentencing requirement of mandatory life without the possibility of parole for convictions under Section 2502(b) to a more humane and compassionate option that would provide consideration of release once the individual has served 25 years of their sentence.  
This legislation reflects a priority that an overwhelming number of Pennsylvanians support.  According to a recent poll done by Susquehanna Polling & Research and commissioned by FAMM, 79% of Pennsylvanians support felony murder reform, and are in favor of a system that allows judges to consider a multitude of factors when deciding an appropriate sentence on a case by case basis.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation that would enable a chance at redemption for these currently incarcerated individuals.   

Introduced as HB2296