House District 172
Click any question to view the candidate’s response.
Question 1 - Create medical parole: Currently, terminally ill people incarcerated in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) may only be released from prison if they apply for and receive a “deferment of sentence,” which can only be granted by a court. Pennsylvania lacks a medical parole system that would allow the parole board to grant parole to seriously or terminally ill people in prison. Would you support or oppose creating a medical parole system to allow seriously and terminally ill people in prison to be reviewed for and granted parole by the Pennsylvania parole board?
Question 2: Expand “deferment of sentence” for ill prisoners - Under Pennsylvania’s current “deferment of sentence” system, only people who have a serious or terminal illness and are facing “imminent death” or not expected to live beyond one year are eligible for consideration for release from prison. Would you support or oppose expanding the eligibility requirements for “deferment of sentence” to allow more seriously or terminally ill people to be considered for release?
Question 3: Create geriatric parole - At the close of 2019, there were more than 10,600 people over the age of 50 living in Pennsylvania’s state prisons. Pennsylvania has no system allowing geriatric prisoners to apply for and receive geriatric parole. Would you support or oppose creating a geriatric parole system to allow elderly and aging people in prison to be reviewed and released by the Pennsylvania parole board?
Question 4: Ending life without parole - Life without parole (LWOP) is currently the mandatory sentence in Pennsylvania for people convicted of both first- and second-degree murder, regardless of the facts or circumstances of the case or the person involved in the crime. There are more than 5,000 people serving LWOP sentences in Pennsylvania prisons. a. Would you support or oppose eliminating life without parole sentences in Pennsylvania? b. Would you support or oppose giving parole eligibility to people currently in prison serving life without parole sentences?
Question 5: Clemency reform - The Pennsylvania Governor has the sole power to grant commutations (sentence reductions) to people serving life without parole or death sentences, but, since 1997, can only do so if the Board of Pardons unanimously recommends a person for a commutation by a vote of 5-0. Prior to 1997, the Board of Pardons could recommend a person for a commutation by a majority vote of 3-2. Would you support or oppose legislation allowing the Board of Pardons to recommend people for a commutation by a non-unanimous vote (i.e., a vote of 4-1 or of 3-2, not 5-0)?
Question 6: Probation and parole reform - Pennsylvania has the highest number and rate of people on parole supervision in the entire country. One-third of people in Pennsylvania prisons are incarcerated for probation or parole violations, including for technical violations (for example, missing a meeting with a probation officer, not committing a new crime). Currently, people on probation and parole in Pennsylvania cannot earn their way off of supervision earlier if they comply with conditions of supervision. a. Would you support or oppose reforming probation and parole in Pennsylvania so that there are fewer people placed on probation and parole? b. Would you support or oppose reforming probation and parole so that fewer people go to prison for technical violations of probation or parole conditions? c. Would you support or oppose allowing people on probation or parole to earn their way off of supervision earlier if they comply with conditions of supervision?
Question 7: Mandatory minimum sentences & sentencing enhancements - Pennsylvania has numerous crimes that require mandatory minimum sentences -- automatic prison sentences that apply regardless of the facts or circumstances of a particular offense or the person who committed it. In 2015, many of Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentences for drug and gun offenses were invalidated as unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling in Commonwealth v. Hopkins. Would you support or oppose legislation to restore the mandatory minimum sentences struck down by the court in the Hopkins case?
Question 8: Reducing racial disparity in the criminal justice system - Data show that Black people and people of color are disproportionately impacted by Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system. In 2017, Pennsylvania’s overall population was 11% Black, but our state prison population was 47% Black. Would you support or oppose legislation that would be proven to reduce the racially disparate impact of Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system?
Question 9: Expand Reprieve - Currently, the Governor has the constitutional authority to grant reprieves to people in prison, allowing people to be released from prison temporarily and return at a future date. In the months of April through July during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor granted reprieves to less than 160 people. Would you support or oppose increased use of reprieves by the Governor?
Question 10: Reduce Pennsylvania’s Prison Population - Including people living in its prisons and jails, Pennsylvania has the highest rate of incarceration rate in the Northeastern states. In 2019-2020, Pennsylvania spent over $2.5 billion on its Corrections department, with only Human Services and Education department expenditures topping corrections spending. Between June of 2012 and the end of 2018, Pennsylvania’s prison population was reduced by more than 4,300 people while we also saw a 29% drop in crime. Would you support or oppose criminal justice reforms that would further reduce Pennsylvania’s prison and jail populations and rate of incarceration?
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