ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
SB 14 (P.N. 1834) was amended in the Senate Judiciary committee, based largely on the gutted version of the House bill, HB 1555 (PN 3006). This amended version eliminated some of the most egregiously problematic provisions from HB 1555 and retained a few good provisions, including eliminating the ability for judges to incarcerate a person in order to “vindicate the authority of the court” and prohibiting extending or revoking probation for failure to pay court fines and costs.
But in exchange for these improvements, SB 14, as amended, sacrificed all of the fundamental, structural changes to Pennsylvania’s probation originally proposed by the bill: caps on probation terms, prohibiting stacked and "split" sentences, and automatic termination of probation, to name a few. SB 14 now changes current law in ways that risk making probation worse in Pennsylvania by making it easier for judges to incarcerate people after revoking their probation, increasing the length of incarceration for technical violations, and allowing judges to keep people on probation indefinitely, including those who are too poor to pay their restitution in full. Its only solution to reducing time on probation is a convoluted and exclusionary process to terminate probation early — an outcome far easier to attain under current law.