Two Pennsylvania lawmakers are eyeing stricter criminal justice measures after recent violent incidents in the commonwealth.
Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, is proposing three bills targeting violent criminals after six Philadelphia police officers were shot by a 36-year-old man who had a series of run-ins with law enforcement since he was a teenager, according to reports.
Maurice Hill has faced charges of burglary, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment but did not serve time on some of the charges, according to reports. Hill is now facing multiple charges of attempted murder and assault on a police officer after the shootings, which resulted in life-threatening injuries for the officers.
Stephens is proposing a mandatory minimum sentencing bill for violent offenses that include drug offenses committed with firearms, offenses committed on public transportation, offenses against elderly people and infants, and for offenses committed while impersonating a law enforcement officer, according to a news release.
“Mandatory sentences ensure that people committing these serious crimes will be held accountable for their actions and take violent offenders off of our streets,” Stephens said.
The second bill would impose a five-year mandatory sentence on felons who are caught illegally possessing guns. The third bill will require separate sentences for each crime victim.
“Current law diminishes the value of crime victims by allowing judges to permit violent criminals to serve their sentences concurrently,” Stephens said. “My bill requires judges to impose consecutive sentences for each victim of a violent crime.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee is asking Inspector General Bruce Beemer to investigate the Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole after five parolees killed six people last month, including two children.
“Prisoners placed on parole have been deemed fit to go back into the public sector; however, some of these parolees have committed murder upon release,” Rep Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, said in a news release. “I am asking the inspector general to investigate the evaluation process these individuals undergo before given parole, as well as the mandates once on parole.
Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel told The Associated Press an agency review is underway examining the release of the five men.
Kauffman said his committee is considering criminal justice reform, and the investigation would help committee members in their decisions.
Reform efforts have focused on nonviolent offenders and their rehabilitation. Lawmakers passed the Clean Slate Law last year which erased the records of those convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors if they pay their fines and do not commit any other offenses for 10 years after their conviction.