THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

End Racial Profiling through legislation at all levels of government

● The DCDC supports federal and Pennsylvania legislation to curb racial discrimination in law enforcement, housing, health care, and employment. legislation should be aimed at enforcing the equal treatment of all people.

○  In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million American correctional population. African Americans are incarcerated at  more than five times the rate of White Americans. In addition, although African Americans and Hispanic Americans make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.

○  In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million White Americans and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month. But the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of White Americans.

○  African Americans represent 12.5% of illicit drug users, but 29% of those arrested for drug offenses and 33% of those incarcerated in state facilities for drug offenses.

○  According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012” project, African American and Asian American renters were less likely to be shown extra homes by landlords when searching for rental units, and also were more likely to be told fewer units were available than were available to their equally qualified White American counterparts.

○  Agents quote slightly higher rents to African and Hispanic Americans than to White Americans with equal renter qualification ○  African American homebuyers were more likely to require pre-qualification than white homebuyers with equal qualification. Agents also spent more time showing homes and discussing home buying with White American buyers compared to minority group buyers.   Drug Courts expanded use for non-violent offenders.

● Drug courts are highly beneficial to taxpayers, drug offenders, and addicts. According to PA House Resolution 288, drug courts save the Commonwealth an average of $6,000 for every individual they serve, and 84% of drug court graduates have not been rearrested or charged with a serious crime in the first year after their graduation. In addition, the Urban Institute cites a report from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals that shows that drug courts provide $2.21 in benefits, and up to $3.36 in benefits among expanded programs, for every $1 invested. Hence, the DCDC supports the expanded use of these courts for non-violent offenders.   Reentry Programs with sufficient funding that help reduce recidivism

● Fellow states have made progress in reducing recidivism through unique programs. Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s CSAMI grant expanded their Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach, and Networking (MISSION) model—an evidence-based case coordination model for people with co-occurring mental illnesses and substance addictions—to include reentry programming, such as peer support and transitional housing, which lowered recidivism 28% from 2004-2015. Virginia Department of Corrections’ Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction planning project addressed the rising number of women in prison by developing a strategic plan to implement evidence-based, gender- responsive, and trauma-informed practices for women in prisons across the state, which lowered recidivism 14% from 2004-2015.

● Pennsylvania should adopt targeted reentry programs for offenders experiencing high recidivism rates, including former drug offenders and traffickers and former opioid users. Funding for these programs could show benefits similar to the targeted programs in other states.   Limit Mandatory Sentencing Mandatory minimum sentencing laws, such as that found in PA SB 508 2019-2020,  are used against low-level offenders despite Congress’ intent to use them to prevent and punish high-level criminal offenses. Combined with sentencing guidelines, most of the sentences that have been imposed by judges in the past 30 years have been unjustly long, costing states and the federal government more money than necessary to properly hold offenders accountable for the severity of their crimes. Judges must be able to retain the authority to decide a proper sentence for each individual case. The DCDC supports:

● We support the removal of marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Today, many states have decriminalized, and others have supported its legalization for medical use. Marijuana is not as harmful as other Schedule I drugs such as heroin or MDMA so we believe its status should be changed to reflect that.

● Risk-Based Sentencing. Lawmakers in Kentucky have been facilitating court involvement to reduce recidivism. Starting in 2013, risk and needs assessments have been included in presentence reports, so that judges can review a defendant’s likelihood of future criminal behavior when considering different sentencing options.

● Maintain PA law as it is since the PA Supreme Court’s holding in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Hopkins (2015). Since the ruling Pennsylvania’s prison population has declined. The prison population dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2018 and is at its lowest level since 2007. The PA Department of Corrections (DOC) states that the Supreme Court’s invalidation of mandatory minimums “played a key role in driving the [population] reduction.” This decline has the added advantage of saving the Commonwealth money. While the DOC’s annual budget remained more than $2 billion from 2015 to 2017, the DOC will spend $93 million less in FY 2017-2018 than it did in FY 2016-2017 . In 2017, the DOC closed State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh, which is expected to save the DOC more than $80 million annually.   Prioritize Prevention and Treatment over Incarceration The DCDC supports prioritizing the prevention of re-entry and treatment of addiction over incarceration for the following reasons:

● Prevention and treatment save taxpayer dollars. Utilizing drug courts over criminal courts can provide the Commonwealth with double to triple the value in benefits for every dollar invested.

● Addiction must be seen as a health concern, not a crime. The mental and physical health issues surrounding addiction are serious and damaging to Pennsylvanians. For example, HIV diagnoses due to opioid use have increased, as have opioid-related overdoses (drugabuse.gov). The stigma of addiction can prevent many from reaching for the treatment they need.  

● Incarceration destroys communities. People should not remain incarcerated for low-level crimes when they can offer economic and social benefits to their communities.   Support the Use of Body Cameras by Police In order to protect police officers across Pennsylvania, create more sound evidence in public interactions, promote public safety, and prevent violence, the DCDC supports the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs) for all police officers in Pennsylvania.

● Police agencies began using BWCs for the following reasons: improving officer safety, reducing/resolving civilian complaints, improving evidence quality, reducing agency liability, improving officer/agency accountability, making cases more prosecutable, improving officer professionalism, improving community perceptions, simplifying incident review, improving training, reducing the use of force, and strengthening police leadership.

● Six million dollars has been appropriated to distributing BWCs to the PA State Police in the 2018-2019 Commonwealth budget, but this amount must be raised if the positive effects of BWCs are to be felt by all Pennsylvanians. BWCs themselves are relatively inexpensive as a part of a municipal police department’s budget; storing the data created takes up more of the cost.

● Research on BWCs in police departments in Nevada and Arizona shows that they improve the public image of police, making people feel safer. The use of BWCs also show correlations to fewer incidents of unnecessary police violence, and fewer complaints filed at police stations.

●  Funds are not as easily accessible to municipal police departments, making BWCs less practical. In 2015, Massachusetts established a competitive grant fund for municipal police departments to apply for BWCs funding. Kentucky also started a similar program in 2016.   We support Ban the Box initiatives

●  Removing criminal history background checks prior to conditional job offers would give formerly incarcerated individuals an equal chance at success. A person who commits a crime at age 19 should not be discriminated against at age 40. Only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have begun initiatives towards the goal of eliminating criminal history questions on job applications, prior to a conditional job offer. End Racial Profiling through legislation at all levels of government

● The DCDC supports federal and Pennsylvania legislation to curb racial discrimination in law enforcement, housing, health care, and employment. legislation should be aimed at enforcing the equal treatment of all people.

○  In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million American correctional population. African Americans are incarcerated at  more than five times the rate of White Americans. In addition, although African Americans and Hispanic Americans make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.

○  In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million White Americans and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month. But the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of White Americans.

○  African Americans represent 12.5% of illicit drug users, but 29% of those arrested for drug offenses and 33% of those incarcerated in state facilities for drug offenses.

○  According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012” project, African American and Asian American renters were less likely to be shown extra homes by landlords when searching for rental units, and also were more likely to be told fewer units were available than were available to their equally qualified White American counterparts.

○  Agents quote slightly higher rents to African and Hispanic Americans than to White Americans with equal renter qualification ○  African American homebuyers were more likely to require pre-qualification than white homebuyers with equal qualification. Agents also spent more time showing homes and discussing home buying with White American buyers compared to minority group buyers.   Drug Courts expanded use for non-violent offenders.

● Drug courts are highly beneficial to taxpayers, drug offenders, and addicts. According to PA House Resolution 288, drug courts save the Commonwealth an average of $6,000 for every individual they serve, and 84% of drug court graduates have not been rearrested or charged with a serious crime in the first year after their graduation. In addition, the Urban Institute cites a report from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals that shows that drug courts provide $2.21 in benefits, and up to $3.36 in benefits among expanded programs, for every $1 invested. Hence, the DCDC supports the expanded use of these courts for non-violent offenders.   Reentry Programs with sufficient funding that help reduce recidivism

● Fellow states have made progress in reducing recidivism through unique programs. Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s CSAMI grant expanded their Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach, and Networking (MISSION) model—an evidence-based case coordination model for people with co-occurring mental illnesses and substance addictions—to include reentry programming, such as peer support and transitional housing, which lowered recidivism 28% from 2004-2015. Virginia Department of Corrections’ Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction planning project addressed the rising number of women in prison by developing a strategic plan to implement evidence-based, gender- responsive, and trauma-informed practices for women in prisons across the state, which lowered recidivism 14% from 2004-2015.  

● Pennsylvania should adopt targeted reentry programs for offenders experiencing high recidivism rates, including former drug offenders and traffickers and former opioid users. Funding for these programs could show benefits similar to the targeted programs in other states.   Limit Mandatory Sentencing Mandatory minimum sentencing laws, such as that found in PA SB 508 2019-2020,  are used against low-level offenders despite Congress’ intent to use them to prevent and punish high-level criminal offenses. Combined with sentencing guidelines, most of the sentences that have been imposed by judges in the past 30 years have been unjustly long, costing states and the federal government more money than necessary to properly hold offenders accountable for the severity of their crimes. Judges must be able to retain the authority to decide a proper sentence for each individual case. The DCDC supports:

● We support the removal of marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Today, many states have decriminalized, and others have supported its legalization for medical use. Marijuana is not as harmful as other Schedule I drugs such as heroin or MDMA so we believe its status should be changed to reflect that.

● Risk-Based Sentencing. Lawmakers in Kentucky have been facilitating court involvement to reduce recidivism. Starting in 2013, risk and needs assessments have been included in presentence reports, so that judges can review a defendant’s likelihood of future criminal behavior when considering different sentencing options.

● Maintain PA law as it is since the PA Supreme Court’s holding in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Hopkins (2015). Since the ruling Pennsylvania’s prison population has declined. The prison population dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2018 and is at its lowest level since 2007. The PA Department of Corrections (DOC) states that the Supreme Court’s invalidation of mandatory minimums “played a key role in driving the [population] reduction.” This decline has the added advantage of saving the Commonwealth money. While the DOC’s annual budget remained more than $2 billion from 2015 to 2017, the DOC will spend $93 million less in FY 2017-2018 than it did in FY 2016-2017 . In 2017, the DOC closed State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh, which is expected to save the DOC more than $80 million annually.   Prioritize Prevention and Treatment over Incarceration The DCDC supports prioritizing the prevention of re-entry and treatment of addiction over incarceration for the following reasons:

● Prevention and treatment save taxpayer dollars. Utilizing drug courts over criminal courts can provide the Commonwealth with double to triple the value in benefits for every dollar invested.

● Addiction must be seen as a health concern, not a crime. The mental and physical health issues surrounding addiction are serious and damaging to Pennsylvanians. For example, HIV diagnoses due to opioid use have increased, as have opioid-related overdoses (drugabuse.gov). The stigma of addiction can prevent many from reaching for the treatment they need.  

● Incarceration destroys communities. People should not remain incarcerated for low-level crimes when they can offer economic and social benefits to their communities.   Support the Use of Body Cameras by Police In order to protect police officers across Pennsylvania, create more sound evidence in public interactions, promote public safety, and prevent violence, the DCDC supports the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs) for all police officers in Pennsylvania.

● Police agencies began using BWCs for the following reasons: improving officer safety, reducing/resolving civilian complaints, improving evidence quality, reducing agency liability, improving officer/agency accountability, making cases more prosecutable, improving officer professionalism, improving community perceptions, simplifying incident review, improving training, reducing the use of force, and strengthening police leadership.

● Six million dollars has been appropriated to distributing BWCs to the PA State Police in the 2018-2019 Commonwealth budget, but this amount must be raised if the positive effects of BWCs are to be felt by all Pennsylvanians. BWCs themselves are relatively inexpensive as a part of a municipal police department’s budget; storing the data created takes up more of the cost.

● Research on BWCs in police departments in Nevada and Arizona shows that they improve the public image of police, making people feel safer. The use of BWCs also show correlations to fewer incidents of unnecessary police violence, and fewer complaints filed at police stations.

●  Funds are not as easily accessible to municipal police departments, making BWCs less practical. In 2015, Massachusetts established a competitive grant fund for municipal police departments to apply for BWCs funding. Kentucky also started a similar program in 2016.   We support Ban the Box initiatives

●   Removing criminal history background checks prior to conditional job offers would give formerly incarcerated individuals an equal chance at success. A person who commits a crime at age 19 should not be discriminated against at age 40. Only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have begun initiatives towards the goal of eliminating criminal history questions on job applications, prior to a conditional job offer. End Racial Profiling through legislation at all levels of government

● The DCDC supports federal and Pennsylvania legislation to curb racial discrimination in law enforcement, housing, health care, and employment. legislation should be aimed at enforcing the equal treatment of all people.

○  In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million American correctional population. African Americans are incarcerated at  more than five times the rate of White Americans. In addition, although African Americans and Hispanic Americans make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.

○  In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million White Americans and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month. But the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of White Americans.

○  African Americans represent 12.5% of illicit drug users, but 29% of those arrested for drug offenses and 33% of those incarcerated in state facilities for drug offenses.

○  According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012” project, African American and Asian American renters were less likely to be shown extra homes by landlords when searching for rental units, and also were more likely to be told fewer units were available than were available to their equally qualified White American counterparts.

○  Agents quote slightly higher rents to African and Hispanic Americans than to White Americans with equal renter qualification

○  African American homebuyers were more likely to require pre-qualification than white homebuyers with equal qualification. Agents also spent more time showing homes and discussing home buying with White American buyers compared to minority group buyers.   Drug Courts expanded use for non-violent offenders.

● Drug courts are highly beneficial to taxpayers, drug offenders, and addicts. According to PA House Resolution 288, drug courts save the Commonwealth an average of $6,000 for every individual they serve, and 84% of drug court graduates have not been rearrested or charged with a serious crime in the first year after their graduation. In addition, the Urban Institute cites a report from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals that shows that drug courts provide $2.21 in benefits, and up to $3.36 in benefits among expanded programs, for every $1 invested. Hence, the DCDC supports the expanded use of these courts for non-violent offenders.   Reentry Programs with sufficient funding that help reduce recidivism

● Fellow states have made progress in reducing recidivism through unique programs. Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s CSAMI grant expanded their Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach, and Networking (MISSION) model—an evidence-based case coordination model for people with co-occurring mental illnesses and substance addictions—to include reentry programming, such as peer support and transitional housing, which lowered recidivism 28% from 2004-2015. Virginia Department of Corrections’ Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction planning project addressed the rising number of women in prison by developing a strategic plan to implement evidence-based, gender- responsive, and trauma-informed practices for women in prisons across the state, which lowered recidivism 14% from 2004-2015.  

● Pennsylvania should adopt targeted reentry programs for offenders experiencing high recidivism rates, including former drug offenders and traffickers and former opioid users. Funding for these programs could show benefits similar to the targeted programs in other states.   Limit Mandatory Sentencing Mandatory minimum sentencing laws, such as that found in PA SB 508 2019-2020,  are used against low-level offenders despite Congress’ intent to use them to prevent and punish high-level criminal offenses. Combined with sentencing guidelines, most of the sentences that have been imposed by judges in the past 30 years have been unjustly long, costing states and the federal government more money than necessary to properly hold offenders accountable for the severity of their crimes. Judges must be able to retain the authority to decide a proper sentence for each individual case. The DCDC supports:

● We support the removal of marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Today, many states have decriminalized, and others have supported its legalization for medical use. Marijuana is not as harmful as other Schedule I drugs such as heroin or MDMA so we believe its status should be changed to reflect that.

● Risk-Based Sentencing. Lawmakers in Kentucky have been facilitating court involvement to reduce recidivism. Starting in 2013, risk and needs assessments have been included in presentence reports, so that judges can review a defendant’s likelihood of future criminal behavior when considering different sentencing options.

● Maintain PA law as it is since the PA Supreme Court’s holding in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Hopkins (2015). Since the ruling Pennsylvania’s prison population has declined. The prison population dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2018 and is at its lowest level since 2007. The PA Department of Corrections (DOC) states that the Supreme Court’s invalidation of mandatory minimums “played a key role in driving the [population] reduction.” This decline has the added advantage of saving the Commonwealth money. While the DOC’s annual budget remained more than $2 billion from 2015 to 2017, the DOC will spend $93 million less in FY 2017-2018 than it did in FY 2016-2017 . In 2017, the DOC closed State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh, which is expected to save the DOC more than $80 million annually.   Prioritize Prevention and Treatment over Incarceration The DCDC supports prioritizing the prevention of re-entry and treatment of addiction over incarceration for the following reasons:

● Prevention and treatment save taxpayer dollars. Utilizing drug courts over criminal courts can provide the Commonwealth with double to triple the value in benefits for every dollar invested.

● Addiction must be seen as a health concern, not a crime. The mental and physical health issues surrounding addiction are serious and damaging to Pennsylvanians. For example, HIV diagnoses due to opioid use have increased, as have opioid-related overdoses (drugabuse.gov). The stigma of addiction can prevent many from reaching for the treatment they need.  

● Incarceration destroys communities. People should not remain incarcerated for low-level crimes when they can offer economic and social benefits to their communities.   Support the Use of Body Cameras by Police In order to protect police officers across Pennsylvania, create more sound evidence in public interactions, promote public safety, and prevent violence, the DCDC supports the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs) for all police officers in Pennsylvania.

● Police agencies began using BWCs for the following reasons: improving officer safety, reducing/resolving civilian complaints, improving evidence quality, reducing agency liability, improving officer/agency accountability, making cases more prosecutable, improving officer professionalism, improving community perceptions, simplifying incident review, improving training, reducing the use of force, and strengthening police leadership.

● Six million dollars has been appropriated to distributing BWCs to the PA State Police in the 2018-2019 Commonwealth budget, but this amount must be raised if the positive effects of BWCs are to be felt by all Pennsylvanians. BWCs themselves are relatively inexpensive as a part of a municipal police department’s budget; storing the data created takes up more of the cost.

● Research on BWCs in police departments in Nevada and Arizona shows that they improve the public image of police, making people feel safer. The use of BWCs also show correlations to fewer incidents of unnecessary police violence, and fewer complaints filed at police stations.

●  Funds are not as easily accessible to municipal police departments, making BWCs less practical. In 2015, Massachusetts established a competitive grant fund for municipal police departments to apply for BWCs funding. Kentucky also started a similar program in 2016.   We support Ban the Box initiatives

●   Removing criminal history background checks prior to conditional job offers would give formerly incarcerated individuals an equal chance at success. A person who commits a crime at age 19 should not be discriminated against at age 40. Only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have begun initiatives towards the goal of eliminating criminal history questions on job applications, prior to a conditional job offer. End Racial Profiling through legislation at all levels of government

● The DCDC supports federal and Pennsylvania legislation to curb racial discrimination in law enforcement, housing, health care, and employment. legislation should be aimed at enforcing the equal treatment of all people.

○  In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million American correctional population. African Americans are incarcerated at  more than five times the rate of White Americans. In addition, although African Americans and Hispanic Americans make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.

○  In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million White Americans and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month. But the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of White Americans.

○  African Americans represent 12.5% of illicit drug users, but 29% of those arrested for drug offenses and 33% of those incarcerated in state facilities for drug offenses.

○  According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012” project, African American and Asian American renters were less likely to be shown extra homes by landlords when searching for rental units, and also were more likely to be told fewer units were available than were available to their equally qualified White American counterparts.

○  Agents quote slightly higher rents to African and Hispanic Americans than to White Americans with equal renter qualification

○  African American homebuyers were more likely to require pre-qualification than white homebuyers with equal qualification. Agents also spent more time showing homes and discussing home buying with White American buyers compared to minority group buyers.   Drug Courts expanded use for non-violent offenders.

● Drug courts are highly beneficial to taxpayers, drug offenders, and addicts. According to PA House Resolution 288, drug courts save the Commonwealth an average of $6,000 for every individual they serve, and 84% of drug court graduates have not been rearrested or charged with a serious crime in the first year after their graduation. In addition, the Urban Institute cites a report from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals that shows that drug courts provide $2.21 in benefits, and up to $3.36 in benefits among expanded programs, for every $1 invested. Hence, the DCDC supports the expanded use of these courts for non-violent offenders.   Reentry Programs with sufficient funding that help reduce recidivism

● Fellow states have made progress in reducing recidivism through unique programs. Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s CSAMI grant expanded their Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach, and Networking (MISSION) model—an evidence-based case coordination model for people with co-occurring mental illnesses and substance addictions—to include reentry programming, such as peer support and transitional housing, which lowered recidivism 28% from 2004-2015. Virginia Department of Corrections’ Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction planning project addressed the rising number of women in prison by developing a strategic plan to implement evidence-based, gender- responsive, and trauma-informed practices for women in prisons across the state, which lowered recidivism 14% from 2004-2015.  

● Pennsylvania should adopt targeted reentry programs for offenders experiencing high recidivism rates, including former drug offenders and traffickers and former opioid users. Funding for these programs could show benefits similar to the targeted programs in other states.   Limit Mandatory Sentencing Mandatory minimum sentencing laws, such as that found in PA SB 508 2019-2020,  are used against low-level offenders despite Congress’ intent to use them to prevent and punish high-level criminal offenses. Combined with sentencing guidelines, most of the sentences that have been imposed by judges in the past 30 years have been unjustly long, costing states and the federal government more money than necessary to properly hold offenders accountable for the severity of their crimes. Judges must be able to retain the authority to decide a proper sentence for each individual case. The DCDC supports:

● We support the removal of marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Today, many states have decriminalized, and others have supported its legalization for medical use. Marijuana is not as harmful as other Schedule I drugs such as heroin or MDMA so we believe its status should be changed to reflect that.

● Risk-Based Sentencing. Lawmakers in Kentucky have been facilitating court involvement to reduce recidivism. Starting in 2013, risk and needs assessments have been included in presentence reports, so that judges can review a defendant’s likelihood of future criminal behavior when considering different sentencing options.

● Maintain PA law as it is since the PA Supreme Court’s holding in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Hopkins (2015). Since the ruling Pennsylvania’s prison population has declined. The prison population dropped for the fifth consecutive year in 2018 and is at its lowest level since 2007. The PA Department of Corrections (DOC) states that the Supreme Court’s invalidation of mandatory minimums “played a key role in driving the [population] reduction.” This decline has the added advantage of saving the Commonwealth money. While the DOC’s annual budget remained more than $2 billion from 2015 to 2017, the DOC will spend $93 million less in FY 2017-2018 than it did in FY 2016-2017 . In 2017, the DOC closed State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh, which is expected to save the DOC more than $80 million annually.   Prioritize Prevention and Treatment over Incarceration The DCDC supports prioritizing the prevention of re-entry and treatment of addiction over incarceration for the following reasons:

● Prevention and treatment save taxpayer dollars. Utilizing drug courts over criminal courts can provide the Commonwealth with double to triple the value in benefits for every dollar invested.

● Addiction must be seen as a health concern, not a crime. The mental and physical health issues surrounding addiction are serious and damaging to Pennsylvanians. For example, HIV diagnoses due to opioid use have increased, as have opioid-related overdoses (drugabuse.gov). The stigma of addiction can prevent many from reaching for the treatment they need.  

● Incarceration destroys communities. People should not remain incarcerated for low-level crimes when they can offer economic and social benefits to their communities.   Support the Use of Body Cameras by Police In order to protect police officers across Pennsylvania, create more sound evidence in public interactions, promote public safety, and prevent violence, the DCDC supports the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs) for all police officers in Pennsylvania.

● Police agencies began using BWCs for the following reasons: improving officer safety, reducing/resolving civilian complaints, improving evidence quality, reducing agency liability, improving officer/agency accountability, making cases more prosecutable, improving officer professionalism, improving community perceptions, simplifying incident review, improving training, reducing the use of force, and strengthening police leadership.

● Six million dollars has been appropriated to distributing BWCs to the PA State Police in the 2018-2019 Commonwealth budget, but this amount must be raised if the positive effects of BWCs are to be felt by all Pennsylvanians. BWCs themselves are relatively inexpensive as a part of a municipal police department’s budget; storing the data created takes up more of the cost.

● Research on BWCs in police departments in Nevada and Arizona shows that they improve the public image of police, making people feel safer. The use of BWCs also show correlations to fewer incidents of unnecessary police violence, and fewer complaints filed at police stations.

●  Funds are not as easily accessible to municipal police departments, making BWCs less practical. In 2015, Massachusetts established a competitive grant fund for municipal police departments to apply for BWCs funding. Kentucky also started a similar program in 2016.   We support Ban the Box initiatives

●   Removing criminal history background checks prior to conditional job offers would give formerly incarcerated individuals an equal chance at success. A person who commits a crime at age 19 should not be discriminated against at age 40. Only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have begun initiatives towards the goal of eliminating criminal history questions on job applications, prior to a conditional job offer. 

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© 2020 Dauphin County Democratic Committee | 4811 Jonestown Road, Suite 233, Harrisburg, PA 17109 | 717-233-1321