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2,700 Philadelphians are serving life without parole. Will they get a chance at redemption?

October 3, 2018, Sarah Anne Hughes - Billy Penn

Hundreds of people who support legislation that would give Pennsylvanians sentenced to life without parole a chance at release came to the capitol this week, expecting a victory.

(Photo of Supporters in the Capital Rotunda by Sarah Anne Hughes)

They didn’t find one.

Sen. Sharif Street of North Philadelphia asked the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday not to vote on his bill, after working for months to get it on the agenda. In the end, the senator believed he was one vote shy of getting SB 942 out of committee.

He placed the blame on the Office of the Victim Advocate, which he said emailed its concerns to committee members a few days before the vote. Street said the implication that he and the bill’s supporters didn’t sympathize with victims was wholly inaccurate. The boyfriend of his eldest daughter, he noted, was murdered within the past year.

The state’s official advocate for crime victims, Jennifer Storm, doesn’t show up in North Philly when there’s a shooting, Street pointed out. She “doesn’t understand our plight,” he said.

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