Judiciary Committee Moves Legislation to Reinstate Mandatory Minimum Sentencing in Pennsylvania
HARRISBURG – House Judiciary Committee Majority Chairman Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) moved legislation to re-enact and amend certain mandatory minimum sentencing statutes in Pennsylvania today during the committee’s scheduled weekly voting meeting.
“Mandatory sentences ensure that perpetrators committing dangerous crimes will be held accountable for the crimes they commit,” said Marsico. “Mandatory minimum sentences prevent sentencing disparity and unduly lenient sentences. They guarantee that sentences are uniform throughout the system and ensure that individuals are punished commensurate with their crime.”
House Bill 741
re-enacts mandatory minimum sentences for many of Pennsylvania’s most dangerous crimes, including violent offenses committed with a firearm, assaults against children or the elderly, and trafficking deadly drugs. For certain drug trafficking offenses, the bill adjusts the minimum mandatory sentence downward and raises the amount of drugs necessary to trigger the mandatory for some substances in order to be certain that drug traffickers, rather than drug addicts, are subject to the sentences.
The U.S. and Pennsylvania Supreme Courts have ruled that the process followed by many of Pennsylvania’s mandatory sentencing statutes is unconstitutional. House Bill 741 corrects those problems by establishing a procedure where a jury must make a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that the mandatory minimum sentence would apply.
In addition to House Bill 741, several other bills moved through the committee today:
• House Bill 203
would increase from $5,000 to $10,000 the amount an employer may pay directly to a surviving relative for the decedent’s final paycheck without requiring letters of administration.
• House Bill 594
would prohibit someone charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse or aggravated indecent assault from being placed into Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition when the victim is a child.
• House Bill 631
would require a sentencing court to impose a mandatory three year probation period consecutive to any sentence imposed by the court for a person convicted of a Tier III sex offense under Pennsylvania’s Adam Walsh Act. This “probationary tail” would ensure that no serious sex offender “maxes out” his sentence and therefore is released without supervision.
The legislation will now go to the full House for consideration.
Representative Ronald Marsico
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Autumn R. Southard, 717.652.3721