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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: June 28, 2021 10:09 AM
From: Senator Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: Remote Probation Meetings
In our efforts to reduce incarceration and reform sentencing, a prominent challenge is Pennsylvania remains among the states with the highest number of people on probation or parole.  The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing found that almost 88% of the studied probation cases in which a probationer was resentenced involved a technical violation of probation (conditions of probation include meeting with a probation officer, maintaining a job, meeting family obligations, complying with curfew, etc.). 

Based on our experience during the pandemic, we should explore the possibility that remote meetings could alleviate legitimate scheduling problems that otherwise end in technical violations.   Many probation offices already allow for remote meetings.  Most probation officers already consider work and other factors when scheduling meetings. 

I plan to shortly introduce legislation to encourage the development of policies within probation offices to expand opportunities for remote meetings when appropriate.  This is not an inflexible mandate.  Unless the policy states otherwise, a probation officer would continue to be free to insist on in-person meetings, to hold unannounced meetings, or to schedule meetings at times that the probation officer deems necessary. 

Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation.