Gov. Wolf Highlights Criminal Justice Reform Success Stories

wolf criminal justiceCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Yesterday, at the NoMo Foundation in Philadelphia, Gov. Wolf highlighted his reforms that have provided fresh starts and opportunities for success for millions of Pennsylvanians.

Gov. Wolf has prioritized criminal justice reform during his time in office because, as he puts it, Pennsylvanians deserve true justice. “We all deserve the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and do better tomorrow,” said Gov. Wolf. “I’ve seen firsthand how a criminal record can bar someone from opportunities – it’s not right, and it’s not just. With a fresh start, these individuals will capitalize on opportunities, contribute to society, and own success.” Gov. Wolf’s reforms have helped to provide new opportunities for millions of Pennsylvanians and works to create a more just and equitable criminal justice system in Pennsylvania.

Over the past few years, criminal justice reform has become a hot-button issue in Pennsylvania and across the country. From protests against mass incarceration to calls for the legalization of marijuana, there is a growing chorus of voices demanding change. In response, Gov. Wolf has prioritized second chances for those who have been involved in the criminal justice system. Pardons, Pennsylvania’s first-in-the-nation Clean Slate Law, and reentry support are all part of the governor’s strategy to support meaningful change that allows for success, reduced recidivism, and safer communities.

Pardons are a powerful workforce development tool. A recent study by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia analyzed 10 years of pardons data and found that pardoned Pennsylvanians improve their economic circumstances and ultimately work to the benefit of their local communities. The report concludes that pardoned Pennsylvanians are more likely to find employment, earn higher incomes, and pay more taxes. In other words, they are contributing members of society who are working to make their communities safer and stronger.

“I am thankful that Pennsylvania continues to be more reentry-friendly,” said Rev. Simmons, executive director of Why Not Prosper. “Collaborative efforts like the ones we are discussing… will make it so much easier for returning citizens to start their lives over and I am ready to keep the work going.”

Democratic Whips Representative Jordan Harris, sponsor for Pennsylvania’s landmark Clean Slate Law, and Senator Anthony Williams, joined Gov. Wolf at the NoMo Foundation for yesterday’s event.

“The NoMo Foundation is an example of just how important second chances can be to our friends and neighbors,” said Rep. Harris. “I’m incredibly appreciative that Pennsylvania has a chief executive in Gov. Wolf who has been a great partner for years and understands that getting folks opportunities to better themselves through educational, housing, and employment opportunities is not only the right thing to do for the individual, but also the right thing to do to strengthen our communities.”

First Lady Wolf’s Women’s Reentry Services Initiative through PCCD in now open for applications. Pennsylvania nonprofits that support women to give them opportunities to successfully transition back into the community and reduce recidivism are encouraged to apply.

“True criminal justice reform requires lawmakers and leaders to look at all levels of how we prosecute and hold people who break the law accountable,” said Sen. Williams. “For too long, our system in Pennsylvania has taken broad swings at addressing crime but rarely taken a targeted approach to really consider who we’re prosecuting and what happens to those individuals once they reenter society. We know we need change. I commend Gov. Wolf for his efforts to make our criminal justice system fairer and more effective. We need to hold criminals accountable, but we also need to give non-violent individuals who have served their time, or committed a low level offense, an opportunity to build a life where they can support themselves. The governor’s recently announced Marijuana Pardon Project and the state’s $2 million dollar investment to support reentry services for incarcerated women, are both great examples of how Pennsylvania is making that change.”

“In Pennsylvania, nearly one in three people has a criminal record. This equates to millions of people,” said Sen. Nikil Saval. “A criminal record becomes a life sentence not just for the person carrying it, but also for their loved ones, disrupting the health and financial wellbeing of a whole family for generations. For years, state government has acted only to ratchet up our rate of mass incarceration. I applaud Governor Wolf for his efforts to push against this trend. Our success in turning the tide is a matter of economic and fiscal responsibility, of public health, of equity, and of racial justice.”

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