Policy Update: Stopping Bad Bills

In previous issues of this newsletter we have updated you on our efforts to stop a package of anti-prisoner bills designed to leverage additional financial penalties against incarcerated people and people facing criminal charges. In the last legislative session we were successful at stalling these bills, but in the most recent legislative session, some have been reintroduced.

The worst of these bills is HB1089, introduced by Representative Stevens, that would authorize Pennsylvania prisons to deduct at least 25% of a prisoner's wages and 50% of deposits made to a prisoner's personal accounts for the purpose of collecting restitution or court costs, prisoner filing 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 or financially support incarcerated loved ones, even though studies show that maintaining family connections is important for preventing people from going back to prison.

The bill has currently passed through the House, and will go to the Senate Judiciary Committee this fall. Decarcerate PA is vehemently opposed to this legislation and all legislation designed to further penalize prisoners and their families. DPA will continue to pressure state senators to vote NO on HB1089 and will keep you informed about this and future bad bills. We encourage you to write letters to your own legislators urging them to reject these bills and attesting to the many harms they would likely cause.