Smart Justice

Recurring news reports of unchecked violent crime in Pennsylvania’s cities demand 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. 

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is considering a package of legislation to provide “Smart Justice” in the Commonwealth to make Pennsylvania safer. 

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.

Smart Justice supports law and order, the officers who enforce the law, and the crime victims injured by the offenders.

We are not creating new restrictions on guns or suggesting law abiding citizens who possess guns are somehow responsible for crime, nor should their constitutional rights be burdened because a local government made the decision not to enforce the law. 

>> Statement from the Majority Leader: PA House Passes Bipartisan Package of Legislation to Make Pennsylvania Safer Through Smart Justice

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

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

Smart Justice Legislation

The state House has passed the following Smart Justice bills:

House Bill 1123 (Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Philadelphia): Law enforcement officers courageously put their lives on the line every day to protect our families, friends and neighbors. In 2019, according to the FBI, 48 law enforcement officers across the United States were killed in the line of duty as a result of criminal incidents. 

This legislation 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) amends 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. 

Crime in Philadelphia is spiking, yet conviction rates in shooting cases have fallen steadily since 2015. Between 2016 and 2020, the fatal shooting conviction rate dropped from 96% to 80%. It dropped from 69% to 64%, in non-fatal shootings. This is clearly the result of a district attorney who is assured reelection by the overwhelmingly Democrat city. Term limiting the office will give the families of the city a chance at relief. The Philadelphia district attorney is elected to a term of four years. Currently, there are no restrictions on how many terms a district attorney of the first class may serve. Yet, Pennsylvania is one of 16 states that imposes term limits for the office of attorney general. The Pennsylvania attorney general cannot serve more than two consecutive terms in office. Some states, including Colorado, do impose term limits for district attorneys.

House Bill HB 2271 (Rep. K.C. Tomlinson, R-Bucks) Amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) to strengthen penalties on those who sexually extort their victims to such a degree that the extortion leads to serious bodily injury or death.

House Bill 2275 (White) amends 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. Jurisdiction sunsets Dec. 31, 2025. There will be an amendment which also reauthorizes the attorney general to prosecute Section 6111 violations in a city of the first class where the attorney general has operated a joint-state firearm task force, subject to the same sunset. 

This gives the attorney general the authority to prosecute when the district attorney fails to do so. 

Following the bill's passage in the PA House Rep. Martina White and Rep. Craig Williams discuss House Bill 2275

House Bill 2412 (Rep. Craig Williams, R-Delaware): Amends the Administrative Code to allow the Pennsylvania National Guard to provide functional support for cybersecurity needs across the Commonwealth.

House Bill 2464 (Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland) amends the Crime Victims Act to grant 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 bill 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.

House Bill 2525 (Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Luzerne) adds a new subchapter to the Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA) to 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. 

This will give crime victims a stronger hand when attempting to recoup in civil court the costs of a criminal’s actions.

>> Read more Smart Justice efforts related to probation reform and removing barriers to success