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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: October 14, 2021 02:01 PM
From: Senator Lisa Baker and Sen. Camera Bartolotta, Sen. Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Comprehensive Probation Reform
In the near future, we will be introducing bipartisan legislation designed to reform Pennsylvania’s probation system. This measure is nearly identical to Senate Bill 14, PN 1834, which passed unanimously out of the Senate last session.

Probation is supposed to be a pathway out of the criminal justice system. Instead, the system has too often become a probation-to-prison revolving door as technical violations, such as a minor traffic offense, can perpetually extend the clock on an offender’s term and result in re-confinement.  Our legislation puts important parameters in place to ensure that is not the case.
The bill also establishes a mandatory probation review conference for probationers, providing criteria for when they occur, and a presumption that probation will be terminated unless the individual does not qualify.  Additionally, the bill will allow for the review conference to occur earlier based on the good conduct of defendants by achieving certain educational, employment, or other goals.  New to the proposal, a provision has been added to allow for the waiving of the mandatory review conference in cases where all stakeholders agree it is unnecessary.

A number of states across the nation, regardless of rural or urban demographics, have created new frameworks to minimize punishments for technical violations of probation and allow judges to shorten probation time for good behavior or for completing certain programs. It is time to reform the probation system in Pennsylvania as well.  We hope you will joining us in this effort.

Introduced as SB913