Smart Justice

Recurring news reports of unchecked violent crime in Pennsylvania’s cities demands a state response in the face of local inaction from progressive prosecutors and the end result of the left’s quest to defund the police.

Smart Justice focuses on the people at the center of crime, both offenders and victims – not just the instruments of crime. Firearms/guns are NOT the enemy… hardened criminals are the cause of violence, particularly when operating in a city which has retreated from enforcing the Crimes Code.

Pennsylvanians deserve to have all our laws enforced by those who are responsible for prosecuting violations of the law. When our laws are not enforced, skyrocketing crime occurs, similar to what is happening in the City of Philadelphia.

To address the issue, the House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 216 (adopted June 29, 2022, 114-86) to establish a bipartisan select committee tasked with investigating the problems within the city, including whether the local prosecutors are performing their duties in prosecuting violent crime and offenses like illegal possession of firearms. The select committee will recommend remedies and issue a final report.

The following members have been named to the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order:

  •   Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester/Lancaster), chair.
  •   Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks).
  •   Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland).
  •   Rep. Amen Brown (D-Philadelphia).
  •   Rep. Danilo Burgos (D-Philadelphia).

>> Read the Fact Sheet on Gun Crime in Philadelphia.

Smart Justice Laws and Legislation

Laws have been enacted and the following Smart Justice bills were passed in the state House:

Supporting Victims of Crime

Act 4 of 2022 (formerly House Bill 930, Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-Northumberland/Snyder): Requires law enforcement to submit DNA profiles of missing persons and unidentified decedents to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

Act 50 of 2022 (formerly Senate Bill 1179): Modernizes the application process for domestic and sexual assault victims to utilize the Address Confidentiality Program Office. Eligibility is expanded to victims of kidnapping, human trafficking and sexual extortion.

Act 70 of 2022 (formerly House Bill 2032, Rep. Meghan Schroeder, R-Bucks): Creates an exception to reporting for health care professionals when handling identifying information in sexual assault cases and victims wish to remain anonymous.

Act 71 of 2022 (formerly House Bill 2039, Rep. Tracy Pennycuick, R-Montgomery): Requires that a victim be notified of court proceedings where a defendant’s bail could be modified and given the opportunity to offer comment.

Act 77 of 2022 (formerly House Bill 2464, Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland): Grants victims legal standing to assert and enforce a right granted to the crime victim by law in a trial or appellate court, or in another official body with jurisdiction over the victim’s case. The new law also requires that if the Commonwealth waives a victim’s rights on behalf of the victim, then the Commonwealth must provide a showing that the victim has knowingly agreed to the waiver.

Act 29 of 2021 (formerly House Bill 156, Rep. Clinton Owlett, R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter): Increases the age for admissible out-of-court statements made by a child victim or witness.

Act 32 of 2021 (formerly House Bill 246, Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Allegheny/ Washington): Applies protections contained within Pennsylvania’s Rape Shield Law to victims of human trafficking.

Act 42 of 2021 (formerly House Bill 654, Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery): Allows law enforcement agencies to share child abuse information to investigating agencies.

House Bill 2525 (Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Luzerne): Would create a procedure by which a crime victim may obtain criminal history investigative information for use in a civil action relating to the crime, including provisions relating to the denial of requests, judicial review and other miscellaneous provisions.

Keeping our Streets Safer

Act 59 of 2022 (formerly House Bill 773, Rep. Christopher Quinn, R-Delaware): Increases gradings for DUI offenses and requires consecutive sentencing for repeat DUI offenders.

Act 61 of 2022 (formerly House Bill 975, Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso, R-Allegheny/Westmoreland): Creates the offense of institutional sexual assault of a care-dependent person.

Act 75 of 2022 (formerly House Bill 2271, Rep. K.C. Tomlinson, R-Bucks): Strengthens penalties on those who sexually extort their victims to such a degree that the extortion leads to serious bodily injury or death.

Act 95 of 2022 (formerly Senate Bill 814): Creates the offenses of evading arrest or detention on foot and harming a police animal while evading arrest or detention.

Act 45 of 2021 (formerly House Bill 1147, Rep. Valerie Gaydos, R-Allegheny): Expands the list of sexual offenses for which inmates must undergo sex offender counseling.

Act 48 of 2021 (formerly House Bill 1429, Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-Northumberland/Snyder): Adds criminal offenses for those who use their position of trust to exploit older adults or care-dependent individuals and provides investigative and prosecutorial jurisdiction.

Act 49 of 2021 (formerly House Bill 1431, Rep. Kate Klunk, R-York): Expands the criteria for abuse of a care-dependent person to include audio, video recordings or still images with the intent to ridicule them.

Act 53 of 2021 (formerly Senate Bill 87): Provides for enhanced sentencing for convictions of child pornography if the victim is under 10 years of age or prepubescent and creates the Task Force on Child Pornography.

Act 71 of 2021 (formerly House Bill 184, Rep. Dawn Keefer-York/Cumberland): Adds a sentencing enhancement for a conviction of causing, aiding or soliciting a person to dive by suicide when the victim is under the age of 18, has an intellectual disability or has autism spectrum disorder.

Enhancing Enforcement

Act 38 of 2022 (formerly House Bill 2412, Rep. Craig Williams, R-Delaware): Allows the Pennsylvania National Guard to provide functional support for cybersecurity needs across the Commonwealth.

Act 60 of 2022 (formerly House Bill 940, Rep. James Rigby, R-Cambria/Somerset): Expands the penalty when a police animal is injured or killed by individuals while they are engaged in the commission of a felony.

House Bill 1123 (Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Philadelphia): Would establish a fund under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to be used to offer up to $50,000 to individuals who provide information leading to the capture and arrest of a perpetrator of criminal homicide of a law enforcement officer.

House Bill 2238 (Rep. Martina White, R-Philadelphia): Would amend the First-Class City Home Rule Act to term-limit a district attorney in a city of the first class (Philadelphia) to two terms in office.

House Bill 2275 (Rep. Martina White, R-Philadelphia): Would amend the Uniform Firearm Act to reauthorize the Office of Attorney General to prosecute in a city of the first class (Philadelphia) where the attorney general has operated a joint-state firearm task force. The bill would also codify the joint local-State firearm task force.

>> When the gun laws are enforced, the system works. Read an Overview of Gun Laws currently in place in Pennsylvania.