Last year, Decarcerate PA and our allies mobilized to stop a package of anti-prisoner bills designed to leverage additional financial penalties against incarcerated people and people facing criminal charges. We were successful at stalling these bills, but in the last legislative session, some have been reintroduced.
The worst of these bills is HB1089, introduced by Representative Stephens. HB1089 would authorize Pennsylvania prisons to deduct at least 25% of a prisoner's wages and 50% of deposits made to a prisoner's personal account, for the purpose of collecting restitution or court costs, fees, or any other court-ordered obligation. These deductions would be in addition to money already authorized to be collected for existing support orders. This puts a huge financial burden on prisoners and their support systems on the outside. It would make it more difficult for family members to stay in touch with and financially support incarcerated loved ones, even though we all know the importance of maintaining family connections while incarcerated.
We're also working to stop two other bad bills from moving forward. One is HB758. Introduced by Rep. Marcy Toepel, this bill would garnish up to 25% of the wages of people who get jobs on their release from prison, with that money going to costs, fines, and restitution. Bills like this one make it even harder for people going to the reentry process to both get a job in the formal economy and to make enough money to support themselves and their families.
The third bill is HB123. Introduced by Rep. Sheryl Delozier, this bill would take people’s cash bail that would normally be returned to a defendant to be diverted to pay any outstanding costs, fines, and restitution owed by the defendant for any other case. This creates a huge disincentive for people to post bail for themselves or others, and means that more people will be held for longer in already overcrowded jails.
All three bills have already passed through the House, and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Decarcerate PA is vehemently opposed to this legislation and all legislation designed to further penalize prisoners and their families.
We are calling on everyone in the state to call the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and tell them not to advance these bills! You can start by calling the Judiciary Chairs, and ask them not to put the bills forward for a vote. And we're also urging everyone to call other members of the committee (especially if they represent your district) and urge them to vote NO on all three bills if they come up for a vote.
Not sure what to say on the phone? Click here for a sample call script.
Find the complete list and phone numbers for committee members below:
- Greenleaf, Stewart J. Chair, (R-Bucks and Montgomery Counties) - (717) 787-6599
- Leach, Daylin Minority Chair, (D-Delaware and Montgomery Counties) - (717) 787-5544
- Rafferty, John C., Jr., (R-Berks, Chester, and Montgomery Counties) - (717) 787-1398
- Scarnati, Joseph B., III, (R-Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, Mckean, Potter and Tioga Counties) - (717) 787-7084
- Alloway, Richard L., II (R-Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York Counties - (717) 787-4651
- Eichelberger, John H., Jr. (R-Blair, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton and Huntingdon Counties) - (717) 787-5490
- Gordner, John R. (R-Columbia, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland and Snyder Counties) - (717) 787-8928
- Pileggi, Dominic (R-Chester and Delaware Counties) - (717) 787-4712
- Vulakovich, Randy (R-Allegheny County) - (717) 787-6538
- Yaw, Gene (R-Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Union Counties) - (717) 787-3280
- Boscola, Lisa M. (D-Lehigh and Northampton Counties) - (717) 787-4236
- Farnese, Lawrence M., Jr. (D-Philadelphia County) - (717) 787-5662
- Haywood, Art (D-Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties) - (717) 787-1427
- Sabatina, John P., Jr. (D-Philadelphia County) - (717) 787-9608