House Bill 5 passed the Senate yesterday 20-1 after passing the House earlier 30-10-1. The sole no vote? You guess it! Colin Bonini. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Carney, who is likely to sign it.
House Bill 5 is the first Criminal Justice Reform bill to pass both Houses of the General Assembly. This bill would reform concurrent and consecutive sentencing by providing sentencing judges with the discretion to sentence prison time concurrently when appropriate.
The legislation does not guarantee concurrent sentences but rather allows judges to make the decision they feel is most appropriate in each case. Sentences for some of the most heinous crimes would still need to be served consecutively, such as first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree rape and most child sex abuse cases.
“Our court system should be focused on fairness and rehabilitation, not vengeance and retribution,” Senate Majority Leader Nicole Poore. “This legislation frees our judges to fully consider the circumstances of each case to deliver a level of justice that’s appropriate for both public safety and the eventual reform of the offender. Every case is different and my colleagues and I have shown today that justice is best left in the hands of those who work with the defendants and victims in these cases every day.”
“Criminal justice reform should focus on helping individuals rebuild, instead of locking the door and throwing away the keys to a better life; it’s about working to stop the revolving door of recidivism in its tracks. HB 5 bill strikes an important balance between keeping dangerous criminals off of our streets and reducing the kind of sentence stacking that has destroyed lives and eliminated any hope that someone might turn their life around after paying their debt to society,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, the House prime sponsor HB 5. “This is a major step in our work to create a new vision for our justice system and I am proud of my colleagues in both the House and the Senate for supporting this key policy in our criminal justice reform efforts.”
HB 5 is part of a 19-bill criminal justice package that was unveiled in March. Of the 17 bills filed as of Tuesday, eight have passed the Senate and are awaiting final consideration in the House. Three others have passed the House and are awaiting a final vote in the Senate, including two sent to the upper chamber on Tuesday.
WHERE IS THE BILL? On the House floor ready for a vote as of 5/15/19
DEMOCRATIC SPONSORS – Longhurst, Poore, Bolden, Brady, Dorsey Walker, Kowalko, Hansen, Lockman, McDowell, Paradee, Sokola, Townsend, Baumbach, Cooke, Heffernan, K.Johnson, Lynn, Minor-Brown, Osienski
REPUBLICAN SPONSORS – None
YES VOTES – HOUSE — Baumbach, Bennett, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Dorsey Walker, Griffith, Heffernan, Hensley, Jaques, K. Johnson, K. Williams, Kowalko, Longhurst, Lynn, Matthews, Michael Smith, Minor-Brown, Mitchell, Osienski, Q. Johnson, Ramone, Schwartzkopf, Seigfried, Shupe, Spiegelman, Viola, Yearick ||| SENATE — Brown, Cloutier, Delcollo, Ennis, Hansen, Hocker, Lawson, Lockman, Lopez, McBride, McDowell, Paradee, Pettyjohn, Poore, Richardson, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend, Walsh, Wilson
NO VOTES – HOUSE — Briggs King, Bush, Carson, Collins, D.Short, Gray, Morris, Postles, Smyk, Vanderwende ||| SENATE — Bonini
ABSENT — Dukes