ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
For each conviction of a violent offense while incarcerated, HB 146 (PN 112), known as "Markie's Law," delays consideration of parole by adding a mandatory 24 months to the minimum date of release. For convictions related to escape, smuggling of contraband, or witnesses retaliation or intimidation while incarcerated, the bill delays consideration of parole by adding a mandatory 12 months to the minimum date of release.
HB 146 effectively establishes two separate mandatory sentencing enhancements, essentially turning every sentence for "violent offense" into a sentence two years longer than it currently is and one year longer for certain “obstruction of justice” offenses. The bill adds these additional years simply because an offense happened to occur in prison or that a person served their time for a new conviction while incarcerated. This is an arbitrary distinction at best. Of critical concern is how the bill proposes to impose these mandatory sentences. HB 146 may be construed as a re-sentencing — it adds additional years to a minimum after a judge has already sentenced the person. It is unclear where the legislature derives this authority and may create grounds for a constitutional challenge for violating the ex-post facto clauses of the PA and US constitutions.