Death by Incarceration – Support SB942
PLEASE SUPPORT SENATE BILL SB942 Introduced by Senator Sharif Street and House Bill HB135- Introduced by Pennsylvania House of Representative, Jason Dawkins. Below, Senator Sharif Street and State Rep. Dawkins explain what passing SB942 and HB135 would do for the rehabilitated inmate serving life, as well as our community as taxpayers…..
Senator Sharif Street, D- Phila., on October 31, 2017, introduced legislation ( SB942) that proposes any person serving a life sentence under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, may be eligible for parole review after serving 15 years of imprisonment.
State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., introduced legislation on April 7, 2017, (HB135), that would abolish sentences of life without parole in Pennsylvania and extend parole eligibility to those already sentenced to life imprisonment. Specifically, Dawkins’s bill would permit a person sentenced to life imprisonment to be released on parole after spending at least 15 years in prison. It also would extend parole eligibility retroactively to those sentenced before the legislation’s effective date. Dawkins said that all life sentences in Pennsylvania are imposed without the possibility of parole, which means that people sentenced to life imprisonment may not be considered for parole, no matter how much they have reformed themselves and no matter how unlikely they are to re-offend. “Those sentenced to life in Pennsylvania have no chance of release, even if their age or health make it extremely unlikely that they will ever re-offend,” Dawkins said. “Not only is this an injustice to those who are incarcerated and have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation, it also is fiscally irresponsible to require taxpayers to foot the bill for sentences that are longer than necessary. “Dawkins added that his bill would not grant a right to parole and the Board of Probation and Parole would continue to thoroughly examine parole requests. “The Board of Probation and Parole will continue to carefully consider requests for parole. This bill simply allows our correctional system to be smart on crime and promote rehabilitation.”
Life Without Parole
“I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination — indeed, everything and anything except me.”
A Voice from the Inside
Senate Bill 942 does not create a right to parole. Public safety is key, and anyone deemed too great a risk to the public, as is customary, will be denied by the Board. Since 2012 over 2000 Convicted Murderers have requested parole in PA, with 1259 denials. (60%). The Board of Probation and Parole will continue to responsibly deny those who pose a risk to the public.
Crystal Pathway – Written by my Husband
“Hopelessness is the enemy of justice”
“We have to remember that people have done more with less; they’ve made many sacrifices in the face of adversity and in the name of equality & justice. How many times a day do we find ourselves saying I’m bored or there’s just nothing to do, let me help you understand that this is a state of mind, it’s the kind of thinking that limits our potential and diminishes our purpose. A few months back there was a rally in Harrisburg, in support of SB942 buses were packed and on a journey from both ends of the state for one cause and one purpose (Criminal Reform), some even came from out of state to join hearts with Pennsylvanians, I called my Wife while she was on one of those buses and I had the honor to speak with two of her friends,who also have husbands that are serving LWOP as I exchanged greetings with them, I felt the purity in their hearts; they were excited,charged up and ready for their voices to be the reason but most importantly part of the solution when the phone was handed back to my Wife, everyone on the bus began chanting something about “bringing them home”. I called a few of the other lifers over so they can listen, one of them asked what’s that? I said that’s the voice of change, that was all of our hearts beating as one, our souls are intact and moving in the same direction. Now we have our beautiful sister Avis Lee, Thank you so much for not only being the amazing woman you are but for not giving up, your spirit is the light that we all see, one day we will meet and I will not hesitate to hug you and tell you that it was your ambition that saved my life, like all of our amazing women you are powerful. We thank you for all of your support. Let’s not be bored, let’s make a difference, stand side by side with me so that we can all look in the same direction,you will not be disappointed. And to my Wife, who’s drive is unstoppable,you are truly a force, thank you. I am going to live in this moment, so that I can understand destiny, I will listen in silence so that I can find the path.”
Frequently asked Questions
What is Parole?
Parole is the release of an inmate from prison prior to his or her sentence’s maximum date, but after the minimum sentence date, to continue serving the balance of the sentence under supervision in the community. Those sentenced to life in Pennsylvania will never have the possibility of parole.
If “Lifers” take a life, don’t lifers deserve their sentences?
All lifers aren’t murderers. There are repeat violent-offenders sentenced to life after violating the state’s three-strikes law. There are also over 1,500 lifers serving second-degree or an unspecified “murder” in which they were present or in the company of someone committing a felony (burglary etc.) which resulted in that person’s death, known as the felony-murder rule. This applies even if they had no knowledge that a crime was going to be committed. There are even instances where the murderer themselves have been released, but those present during the crime will die behind bars.
Who is the sponsor of this bill?
Senator Sharif Street is the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 942.
When was SB 942 introduced and where is it currently?
Introduced on October 31, 2017, Senate Bill 942 currently sits in the Judiciary Committee.
Would family members of victims have input in determining who gets paroled?
Absolutely! Senator Street’s senate bill number 942 would give those serving life without parole, the option to approach the Parole Board. Victims have a direct role in the Parole Hearing and help decide if an applicant should be released.
Why is there a need to allow those serving life to explore release?
Tax payers pay $40,000 a year per prisoner, and between $70,000 – $100,000 a year for elderly prisoners, who pose little to no risk to the public.
How do we know older lifers pose little risk?
Only 99 lifers over the age of 50 have ever been released in Pennsylvania. Of these 99, only one has ever been recommitted for a new crime, putting the rate of recommitting a crime at 1.01%.