HARRISBURG – June 4, 2018 – State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today released the following statement at the conclusion of today’s Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Senate Bill 293.
“One of the foundational principles of justice is that we must punish people for crimes they commit or intend to commit in a way that’s proportional to the crime,” Leach said. “The hearing today reaffirmed my belief that the way Pennsylvania uses the felony murder statute should be reformed. People who did not kill or intend to kill are being imprisoned for life. Such an unjustified punishment undermines the effectiveness of our justice system and the public’s faith in it. Furthermore, paying to imprison someone for life without taking into consideration their intent is a bad deal for taxpayers, as it’s enormously costly but does not make us any safer. This discussion was long overdue and I thank Senator Greenleaf for his willingness to have this conversation. The public has had a chance to see the reform we need and I hope that we can move this legislation in the Senate.”
Under current law, if you are involved as an accomplice in certain felonies, like robbery or arson, and someone is killed during the commission of that felony, you are guilty of second degree murder. This is true even for an accomplice who does not kill anyone, and even if the accomplice did not know that anyone could be killed while committing the felony. In other words, if more than one person is involved in the perpetration of a felony, each person involved is legally responsible for a criminal homicide that occurs during the felony. A guilty verdict for second degree murder requires a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The cost to taxpayers of imprisoning a person for life without parole is between $40,000 and $44,000 per year, and rises as the prisoner ages due to medical costs.
You can download and view written testimony of all of the witnesses who testified during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, and a link to video when available, on Leach’s website here: www.senatorleach.com/sb293.
Leach first introduced his bill to reform the way Pennsylvania uses the “Felony Murder” doctrine in January of 2016. Leach reintroduced the bill as Senate Bill 293 in February of 2017 and the bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator Daylin Leach represents the 17th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Montgomery County and Delaware County. He is also the Democratic Chairperson of the Senate Judiciary Committee. For more information visit www.senatorleach.com/newsroom.