Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cracking down on violent offenders

Cracking down on violent offenders



Saying "enough is enough," Rep. Brendan Boyle (D., Phila.) has introduced a bill to end early parole for repeat violent offenders.

Flanked by fellow House members and representatives the State Police and the Philadelphia Police Department, Boyle said at a press conference this morning that House bill 1567 would increase prison sentences for second and third-strike offenses and end the possibility of early parole for repeat violent offenders.

The chief impetus for the bill: the recent deaths of Philadelphia police officers at the hands of violent offenders.

"We've seen far too often, especially in Philadelphia, what repeat violent offenders are capable of," said Boyle. "These are people who should have never been out on the streets to begin with."

As it stands now, a second-strike violent offender gets a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence (meaning, a range of 10 to 20 years in prison). That person is then eligible for parole after serving the minimum, or half of the sentence.

Boyle's bill would require a flat sentence of anywhere between 15 to 30 years - and repeat offenders would have to serve the entirety of that time.

Once the offenders served their full prison sentence, the bill would require they be under the close monitoring and supervision of the parole board for 15 to 20 years.

"It's not feel-good legislation," said State Police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski, who was at the press conference. "It's surgical in nature. It's targeted. And it's directed at the most violent and most dangerous criminals on the street."

Crimes that would be covered under the bill: Murder of the third degree; voluntary manslaughter; rape; incest; kidnapping; and robbery, among others.

The bill would classify the crimes of criminal homicide or assault of a law enforcement officer as so-called "crimes of violence," meaning they too would be covered under Boyle's bill.

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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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