CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM IN PENNSYLVANIA GETS A MAJOR BOOST WITH PASSAGE OF SECOND CHANCE LEGISLATION

Syrita Bowen News, Pennsylvania, Press

Pennsylvania Joins 40+ States that have Eliminated Driver’s License Suspensions for Certain Non-Driving Related Offenses

(Washington, DC) – Continuing their bipartisan commitment to second chances, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed House Bill 163 with a unanimous vote in the Senate and a 179-1 vote in the House, and House Resolution 76 with a 49-1 vote in the Senate. House Bill 163 eliminates driver’s license suspensions for certain non-driving related offenses, while House Resolution 76 will opt Pennsylvania out of a burdensome federal provision that requires the Commonwealth to automatically suspend the driver’s licenses of those convicted of certain crimes in order to receive federal highway funds.

In Pennsylvania alone, over 33,000 people had their licenses suspended for convictions of nonviolent, non-driving related offenses in 2017. Pennsylvania now joins at least 40 other states that have taken the important step of eliminating the practice of automatically suspending driver’s licenses for those with certain criminal convictions.

“A driver’s license is a critical lifeline for people trying to turn their lives around, hold a job, and care for their families,” said Holly Harris, Executive Director of the Justice Action Network. “It’s time for the government to get out of their way and ensure these individuals have a fair shot at honoring their responsibilities and living crime-free lives. The Pennsylvania Legislature continues to move forward with bipartisan, common-sense fixes to our broken justice system, and we look forward to seeing these bills signed into law by Governor Wolf.”

This legislation received support from a wide swath of organizations across the state, including the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the ACLU of Pennsylvania. It comes in the wake of landmark “clean slate” legislation that passed earlier this year, making Pennsylvania the first state in the country to provide for automatic record sealing.

The Justice Action Network is the largest 501(c)4 organization in the country devoted to bipartisan cooperation in the criminal justice reform space. From state houses to the White House, the Justice Action Network’s partners on the right and the left have paved the way for lifechanging criminal justice reforms including sentencing reform, prison reform, bail reform, dignity for incarcerated women, and so much more. For more information on their work, visit www.justiceactionnetwork.org. 

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