As the Pennsylvania legislature finished the budget, it also passed HB 156, legislation which will help younger teenagers testify against their accusers, especially in cases of sexual and other forms of violence, including human trafficking. This legislation recognizes the trauma that young victims of crime often suffer and how that trauma makes testimony difficult.
As the voice of Pennsylvania’s prosecutors, the PDAA is pleased to partner with the victim services community to celebrate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 18-24, 2021). The purpose of this celebration resonates with prosecutors in particular because serving victims of crime, and ensuring their rights, is at the core of what we do. As long as there are offenders creating victims, we will continue fighting to make sure that the victims are treated with the dignity, fairness and respect they deserve.
The unprecedented events of 2020 amplified a loss of trust and confidence in our criminal justice system felt deeply by some minority communities. Trust must be restored, and in criminal justice, the District Attorney and the district attorney’s office has a large role to play in that process.
As 2020 comes to a close (finally!), we turn a cautious but hopeful eye towards 2021. While much has been lost to the pandemic, PDAA President and Snyder County District Attorney Mike Piecuch takes a moment to focus on the positive.
On any given day, prosecutors assist police at crime scenes, hold the hands of victims, interview witnesses, negotiate with defense attorneys, and try cases in court. They engage with their communities by visiting schools and senior centers and service clubs and more. So we know what they do, but WHY do they do it?
‘At first, it made me feel defensive:’ How Bucks County’s DA is confronting racism with local police
Conversations about race and policing in Bucks County, which sharpened after the murder of George Floyd in May, gained more momentum after other high-profile deaths nationwide. These are challenging conversations, but we must prioritize them to find common understanding between our communities and the police officers who serve them. Here in Bucks County, we have been bringing people together on this issue since January in ways that have already had positive impact.
When the state ordered everything closed, the criminal justice system faced its own unique issues. There were no more in-person hearings. Jury trials were suspended. Crowded work offices were cleared out and judges, attorneys and staff began to telework. Yet, crime didn’t stop and the clock on prosecutions was still ticking.
We stand united with all who have condemned the heinous actions that led to the killing of George Floyd. We wholeheartedly echo the statement of the National District Attorneys Association of May 31. Racism and bias – whether explicit or implicit – must be eliminated. We have an important role to play in eliminating them.
In the age of COVID-19, law enforcement officers face even more danger and uncertainty as an unseen assailant – the novel coronavirus – lurks in the background of every call, every traffic stop and every encounter with the public. As we observe National Police Week, we recognize our brave men and women in blue who report for duty day in and day out to keep our communities safe.
Corrections officers patrol the toughest blocks in the country. Now they are tasked as public health officials ensuring that social distancing, cleaning, and other preventative measures are implemented—not for their own well-being—but for the health and safety of the inmates entrusted to their care.
The “Stay at Home” Order is expected to “flatten the curve” but it requires us to call on the community to be vigilant about child abuse.
While many of us are hunkered down at home to protect ourselves from coronavirus, there are many more people —including children — who are trapped at home and terrified that their next step up the stairs, down the hallway or the next word spoken will result in an unprovoked attack from the abuser living among them.
A prosecutor’s work does not stop because of a global pandemic. Rather, DAs and their staffs are adjusting to this unprecedented situation to ensure that crimes are investigated, rights are protected, and justice is served.
Granting a commutation is a decision that can significantly reduce or even eliminate the criminal penalties of the most serious and violent offenders. When considered and done correctly, a commutation can be appropriate and fair. When done incorrectly, it can have very negative consequences.
Meaningful improvements to our county probation system can and should be made through the legislative process. Our goal is a better probation system without unintended consequences, such as reduced public safety, reductions in collected restitution, or increased incarceration.
Public safety and community engagement are critical parts of 21st Century prosecutor’s job.
There are some who would like to perpetuate the myth that our jails are filled with non-violent drug offenders. This is simply not the case.
The research on the effects of using marijuana and the experience of other states that have already legalized marijuana demonstrate the deleterious consequences that legalizing marijuana will have.
John T. Adams argues it's better to spend on education today than prisons tomorrow.
When asked what I enjoy most about being district attorney, my response of “I enjoy helping people” surprises some. It shouldn’t.
As of 2016, Pennsylvania’s opioid prescription rates dropped from sixth in the country all the way down to 26th.
To help victims, our office has a dedicated Victim Witness Unit that is staffed by very caring people who work with victims, their families and witnesses.
When I ask people what they believe the role of district attorney is, most respond “to lock people up.”