Pennsylvania House Judiciary Should Cut Exclusions from New Anti-Recidivism Act

Proposed Program would Reduce Recidivism more than 40%

PA State Rep. Napoleon Nelson [D-Montgomery County]Pennsylvania State Representative Napoleon Nelson (D-Montgomery County) has introduced House Bill 1678, entitled the Pennsylvania’s Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act. If enacted, this Act would allow people who are incarcerated to participate in and complete vocational and educational programs while in prison to earn credits that can accelerate parole consideration. This means that the parole board will have the opportunity to consider people who are proactively participating in their rehabilitation sooner and determine whether they are prepared to safely return to their communities. Strengthening incentives through earned education credits for people who do participate in and complete these proven programs will allow for a leaner, more targeted corrections system, better safety outcomes, and less crime.  

Rep. Nelson and co-sponsor Rep. Natalie Mihalek write in their memorandum introducing the bill, “We must ensure that our criminal justice system is best equipped to reduce recidivism and increase public safety outcomes. Studies consistently show that vocational training and education programs are among the most effective interventions to reduce recidivism and improve public safety outcomes after release from prison. Studies have shown that people who participated in correctional education programs had 43% lower odds of recidivating and had 13% higher chances of getting a job after incarceration than those who did not.”

No Programs for Persons with a Sex Offense

Yet, HB 1678 specifically excludes wide classes of otherwise eligible people based on their offense or the requirements that surround it, including those required to complete “Sex Offender Treatment” under § 9718.1 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.

In other words, HB 1678 would provide tremendous resources and support for persons incarcerated in Pennsylvania, but it excludes persons with sex crimes for no good reason.

Thanks to PARSOL Advocates’ ongoing dialogue with members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, we were invited to submit a memorandum of public interest.

To get involved in PARSOL’s Legislative Affairs activities please volunteer here.

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Randall Hayes is the chair of PARSOL Advocates, a 501(c)4 advocacy organization. He serves as Legislative Director, working with Pennsylvania's elected officials to change outdated and misinformed laws around sexual offenses.

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