ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 256 expands the definition of the crime “assault by prisoner” (Title 18 § 2703) against corrections staff by grading a simple assault (a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison) as an aggravated assault (a second-degree felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison). It also enhances the grading of an aggravated assault against corrections staff from a second-degree to first-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
This bill was amended in the Senate to expand Pennsylvania’s definition of institutional sexual assault (Title 18 § 3124.2) to include law enforcement, probation, and parole officers and any person (including minors and confidential informants) in the officer’s custody. This would prohibit officers from using consent as a defense when they engage in sexual contact with someone in their custody. The offense would be graded as a third-degree felony.
House Bill 256 was enacted as Act No. 63 of 2020.