With SCI Retreat slated for potential closures, lawmakers are grappling with the future of the state's prison system

With SCI Retreat slated for potential closures, lawmakers are grappling with the future of the state's prison system

The recent announcement that a state correctional facility in Luzerne County is set for closure has sparked a scramble among lawmakers, area residents and unions to keep the prison open.

But as concerns over the closure of SCI Retreat largely focus on the impact of an economically depressed part of the state, many are questioning the moral ramifications of using prisons as economic stimulants in the first place.
Monday, October 14, 2019/Author: Andrew Bahl
Categories: Features
Legislators weigh action on statute of limitations reform in Senate hearing

Legislators weigh action on statute of limitations reform in Senate hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee convened Wednesday the first hearing in years to examine the state’s statute of limitations to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue the institutions which shielded their abusers, although it is unclear whether the meeting signals a sea change within the chamber.

The hearing comes as new Senate Judiciary chair Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Monroe) says she is exploring action on the matter. Victim advocates praised the fact that multiple panels of sexual abuse survivors were featured but it remains to be seen whether their advocacy will push the Senate to take action after the House passed a two-bill package in the spring.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019/Author: Andrew Bahl
Categories: News and Views
Senate hearings reveal need for more behavioral health services; gun control legislation still in question

Senate hearings reveal need for more behavioral health services; gun control legislation still in question

A spate of marathon Senate Judiciary Committee hearings revealed a glimpse into the complex task of reducing gun violence across the commonwealth, and while panelists appeared to agree on the need for expanded mental health services, the future of gun-related legislation remains in question for members of the General Assembly.  

The long-awaited hearings, promised by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) as a “prelude to action” following two summer mass shootings in the U.S., featured testimony from psychiatrists, gun rights advocates, prosecutors and gun control advocates — who all appeared to agree that residents lack access to mental health care that could reduce instances of violence. 
Wednesday, September 25, 2019/Author: Justin Sweitzer
Categories: News and Views
House Judiciary chair shuts down talk of ERPO bill as committee pursues mandatory minimums instead

House Judiciary chair shuts down talk of ERPO bill as committee pursues mandatory minimums instead

The chair of the House Judiciary Committee said Tuesday his committee would not be taking up so-called red flag legislation, with Democrats saying they will exhaust any means necessary to get a top priority of gun control advocates across the line.

The comments from Chair Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) come on the same day his committee passed a raft of firearms bills, including ones to reimpose mandatory minimums on a range of gun and violent crimes, as well as a controversial proposal to make it harder for local governments to pass their own gun control measures.
Tuesday, September 24, 2019/Author: Andrew Bahl
Categories: News and Views
Senate Judiciary Committee schedules fall hearings on gun violence, mental health

Senate Judiciary Committee schedules fall hearings on gun violence, mental health

As Democratic lawmakers continue to call for gun reforms, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) this week announced the committee’s fall schedule, promising a series of hearings on gun violence, the statute of limitations and the parole process in Pennsylvania.

After two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas earlier this month, Baker pledged to hold public hearings prior to taking action on gun-related measures. Those hearings will be held on September 24 and September 25 to address “behavioral health, Second Amendment rights and other gun-related issues,” according to a release from her office.
Thursday, August 15, 2019/Author: Justin Sweitzer
Categories: News and Views
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