Governor Rendell Calls for Legislation to Eliminate the Possibility of Parole for Repeat Offenders of Violent Crimes in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines provide a range of years for which a convicted felon is to serve in prison. For example, sentencing guidelines would require a range of five-to-ten years for a certain crime. At some point within this range, the convicted felon becomes eligible for parole, or early release on a probationary status. Granting of parole is determined by a parole board that interviews the inmate and weighs different factors, such as good behavior, to determine whether to grant parole. The parole system in Pennsylvania has been highly successful with non-violent offenders. In 2007, 95% of non-violent parolees were not re-arrested. Unfortunately, the system has not been as successful with those convicted of violent crimes.
In September of 2008, Governor Rendell announced a parole freeze after two Philadelphia Police Officers and two other innocent victims were killed by violent-felons who had been released on parole. The parole system was examined during the freeze and it was determined that the parole boards responsible for releasing those felons involved in the aforementioned homicides followed proper procedures. Following the examination, the parole freeze was lifted; however, the examination report suggested that the system needed to better deal with the “worst of the worst” criminals in Pennsylvania’s prison population.
Rendell’s proposed plan for legislation, which was described recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer, would require Judges to impose a fixed-term sentence on repeat violent offenders, eliminating opportunity for early release. Rendell said that he hoped the fixed-term would be that of the maximum sentence under the guidelines’ range. The proposed law would apply to repeat offenders of violent crime only and would automatically trigger upon a second violent offense.
Regardless of whether the proposed legislation is passed, Rendell will require stricter supervision of certain parolees who have been repeatedly convicted of violent offenses. Currently, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole is examining the case of every repeat violent offender who has been released on parole for fewer than five years, in order to determine whether such stricter supervision is necessary.
A person who is granted parole has certain duties and obligations that must be followed as part of their sentence; most importantly the duty not to commit any crime or have any involvement in criminal activity. With the current scrutiny of Pennsylvania’s parole policy and potential legislation which would further tighten the system, it is imperative to obtain quality legal advice and representation should you be accused of a crime, or are currently serving a sentence for conviction of a crime. For a confidential consultation, please contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff by phone at (215) 563-9800 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.