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State officials back criminal defense reforms to lower recidivism

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently announced that he favors broad reform of the criminal justice system in the state. He claims that the system is broken and needs to be fixed, adding that his administration has promoted programs that would divert individuals from incarceration and that favor rehabilitation. Criminal defense attorneys will likely welcome the Governor's embrace of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative II reforms, which recommend legislative reforms in all major phases of a criminal case.

Wolf has called on the legislature to pass the Justice Reinvestment reforms, which are the result of a study chaired by the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, over the past year and a half. Shapiro says the new policies are both tough and smart, and said they would save the state about $100 million over the next five years. One of the goals is to increase resources to county probation departments so that the number of supervision violations will be reduced, thus reducing also the number of incarcerations.

By improving the resources available to the probation departments, it is expected not only that incarcerations will drop but also that communities will be safer due to fewer criminal violations. It is postulated that the current country probation departments do not have sufficient resources to do their jobs and work with probationers to reduce recidivism. It is also asserted that county probation heads have the best opportunity to reduce violations by probationers and parolees. Wolf was commenting also on the case of a rapper known as Meek Mill who a county judge sentenced to two to four years of imprisonment for a probation violation consisting of popping willies on a dirt bike.

It was also reported by new Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner that one of the police officers on the Meek Mill case was on a list of cops accused of being repeated liars and fixers of the evidence in criminal cases. It may be that between Wolf, Krasner and Shapiro, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may see substantial reforms in criminal justice in the coming months and years. Other reforms will be made in the prosecution of a criminal case, which will likely be welcomed and supported by the criminal defense bar. 

Source: SOURCE NEEDED, "Pennsylvania Governor Supports Meek Mill Prison Release", Latifeh Muhammad, March 23, 2018

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