June 25, 2019
Re: Senate Bill 501, Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI2) Legislation
Esteemed Members of the House Judiciary Committee,
On behalf of the Pennsylvania Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws, please accept this formal opinion regarding SB 501.
The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is poised to bring significant positive changes to parole, probation, and rehabilitation efforts in the Commonwealth.
SB 501 details the circumstances for which people in the criminal justice system may qualify for certain benefits of the reform initiative, including placement in drug treatment programs or motivational boot camps, alternative sentences like county intermediate punishment, and short-sentence expedited parole.
The exclusion of people with offenses regarding failures to register is a weakness in the JRI2 effort and ought to be amended during the Committee Process.
A failure to register is not a violent crime and it does not increase the risk of harm to the general public. Because of the lengthy periods which people are required to register (some for life) and because of the myriad reasons that a person might be prosecuted for a failure to register, it is unfair and unjust to assume that a person who fails to register is dangerous or a threat to public safety. In this version of SB 501, a failure to properly register is regarded as heinous as violent crimes such as rape and murder. It is clearly not.
Concerning the more violent and sexual offenses that are excluded from the benefits of SB 501, further deliberation is encouraged. Each case is unique and ought to be eligible for consideration of these probation and parole reform measures.
The goals of SB 501 are commendable. Please amend the language in the bill to allow all offenders to have the unique circumstances of their conviction considered before ruling out their eligibility to benefit from the JRI2.
Randall A Hayes, B.S.