Philadelphia – July 15, 2020 – State Senator Larry Farnese delivered the following remarks on Senate Bill 14: 

Thank you Mr. President and thank you to my colleagues here today who worked together to find a path we could take forward to make our penal system less punitive and our justice system more just. 

In particular, I’m grateful for the effort of Senators Baker, Bartolotta and Anthony Williams who have been leading this bipartisan effort to implement new ideas to make Pennsylvania a leader in criminal justice reform.

I also want to thank Sarah Speed and Mike Cortez whose talent and hard work allowed us to put these ideas on paper in a way that that we can be confident that the Senate will support them.

And they have worked with the Justice Action Network, the Reform Alliance, the PA Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and all the advocacy groups that came together to make this happen.

This legislation represents another milestone in what I hope will be a persistent and perpetual effort to bluntly re-evaluate the work of our predecessors and boldly make changes when justice and humanity require it.

This bill curbs the power of judges to criminalize minor infractions that keep people on a punishment treadmill impossible to escape and impractical to enforce. 

For those who stay out of trouble, who seek employment — who are willing to learn and earn — we are creating new pathways to opportunity and, in doing that, we are saving money, lives and dignity. 

Tomorrow, someone will say that this is not enough, that there is more to do and, frankly, I will agree with them.

But today, I am proud of the ability of my colleagues and their staffs to work together on behalf of Pennsylvanians whose potential is too often wasted, whose humanity is too often ignored and whose freedom is too often denied.

I ask my colleagues for their support.

Thank you Mr. President.