Dear partners and allies: As you may know, REFORM Alliance began circulating an RFP to directly impacted organizations in March and is now circulating an organizational sign-on letter asking for support for SB 913, the probation bill you joined us in opposing. We urge you to continue your opposition to SB 913—a bill that will not only not do what is promised, but very may very well make probation in Pennsylvania worse.
Quick status update: SB 913 passed the Senate on December 15th by a vote of 46-4. The bill is now in the House, and since the Senate vote, we have focused our attention on representatives in the House—specifically members of the House Judiciary committee and the Legislative Black Caucus. We believe our persistent efforts to sound the alarm about SB 913 have slowed the bill's advance—and we intend to keep the pressure on. To that end, we, in conjunction with the Coalition for Parole Justice, are inviting you to join us for a town hall next week for a deep dive on the dangers and pitfalls of SB 913 (the event is open to the public, so feel free to share!):
Town hall topic: The Future of Probation is not SB 913
Description: In one hour, we will break down SB 913's most critical provisions, provide context for how the bill will undermine true probation reform, and share implications for criminal justice reform both in Pennsylvania and nationally.
When: Tuesday, Apr 12, 2022 06:30 PM - 7:30 PM Eastern Time
Where: Virtual via Zoom
Join! Register in advance (After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.)
Bill language update: Before SB 913 passed the Senate, it was amended on the Senate floor, making the bill even worse. Some of the most worrisome provisions include changes that would:
Make it harder for judges to terminate probation;
Permit hearings without a meaningful guarantee of counsel, which would undermine due process while making revocation and incarceration even MORE likely; and
Expand probation detention authority, including to police officers, which would mean longer pretrial incarceration for probation detainers.
Those changes are in addition to the problems with the underlying bill, which still include:
Weakening the presumption against incarceration for violations, resulting in more people incarcerated after violating probation;
Keeping poor people on probation indefinitely until they can pay their restitution in full;
Allowing for the indefinite detention of people with mental illness or substance use disorders; and
For the few incremental benefits it does offer, SB 913 would have little to no effect on the vast majority of people languishing on probation.
You can read the ACLU-PA's updated memo opposing SB 913 here and attached. It's admittedly on the long side, but it does include a detailed analysis of each of the arguments listed above. You can access all our probation-related materials on our SB 913 bill page.
In Pennsylvania, we need real reform to our probation system, but SB 913 is not that. Please continue in your opposition to the bill.
Questions? Please contact Elizabeth Randol at firstname.lastname@example.org
To register, click here.