ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
SB 235, also known as “Tyler’s Law,” would impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a fine of $15,000 (or more) for any person convicted of 18 § 2506 (Drug delivery resulting in death) if the person had two or more prior convictions related to drug delivery or any person who “received anything of value, directly or indirectly, as consideration for dispensing, delivering, giving, prescribing, selling or distributing any controlled substance or counterfeit controlled substance.”
SB 235 would almost certainly incarcerate people with substance use disorders. Instead of reducing the instances of drug-related deaths, SB 235 has the real potential of punishing people for their substance use disorder. Minimum sentences under SB 235 would apply regardless if the person convicted was suffering from substance use disorder while using drugs with the person who died. There are no exceptions in the bill for these circumstances.
Furthermore, decades of research has shown that imposing mandatory minimum sentences:
- Have no deterrent effect on the offenses they penalize;
- Fuel mass incarceration;
- Disproportionately harm people of color;
- Give prosecutors an unfair advantage;
- Prevent judges from using their discretion at sentencing; and
- Do not make communities safer.
Mandatory minimum sentences fail to keep Pennsylvanians safe, while driving up prison populations and costs for taxpayers. Despite their best intentions, legislators should resist resorting to demonstrably failed policies of the past.
Check the bill's status here.