"Wish list for 2018 for the state of Pennsylvania:
1. Increase the power of the people. Real change is a result of voices and action. My wish is for Pennsylvanians to step up in record voting numbers for non-major elections, work to gain a better understanding about their elected officials’ positions and reach out to legislators on important issues that impact their neighbors and those without a voice. You can search for your Congressional Rep here.
2. Get reform moving. The role of the District Attorney is an important one. My hope is to see some moves made and promises fulfilled by incoming DA Larry Krasner around criminal justice reform.
3. Pass the Clean Slate Act. In October, my teammates and I went to Harrisburg to lobby for this bill, which would provide a second chance for misdemeanor offenses to be wiped clean from someone’s record. It has already passed in the Senate, and it is time for the House to make it easier for 1 in 3 working Pennsylvanians to get a second chance.
4. Reform the bail system. Every night, thousands of individuals sit in PA jails for minor non-convicted offenses simply because they can’t afford bail. PA needs to model itself after Washington, D.C. and other cities who have eliminated cash bail and have put a more focused effort towards rehabilitation and mental health support.
5. End Juvenile Life Without Parole. Pennsylvania leads the country, and the world, in the number of juveniles given life sentences without parole. It is inhumane to treat children as adults. A large number of states have banned this practice in the past several years. It’s time for PA to join them.
6. Divert funds to police training. Recently, I sat down with Upper Darby Superintendent Mike Chitwood and two of his officers who have undergone RITE (Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement) training to address racial bias and profiling. I applaud Superintendent Chitwood for his thoughtful approach and acknowledgement that it will take daily training and resources to help equip officers with the tools they need to better communicate and serve multicultural residents. My wish is to divert funds for every PA officer to undergo this type of training.
7. End minimum mandatory sentences. Mass incarceration is a fiscal nightmare for the state of PA. Taxpayers are spending millions of dollars to keep people in jail for minor non-violent misdemeanors. We need as a state to place resources towards reentry, rehabilitation and mental health. Locking people up for longer periods of time does not make our communities safer; it just costs us a ton of money.
8. Support local grassroots organizations. There are a large number of Philadelphia-based grass roots organizations that I have profiled in this column. They have dedicated their lives to reform and supporting their communities. I hope you will consider donating to these organizations and getting involved."