Support for Victims of Crime
DAs are dedicated to ensuring that victims are treated respectfully, fairly and with compassion. We support a constitutional amendment to elevate the rights of victims, and recently championed legislation to make sextortion a crime and make strangulation a stand-alone crime to better protect victims of abuse. We also supported legislation related to elder abuse and strengthen DUI laws.
DAs are part of today’s conversation regarding law enforcement and our communities. This statement united Pennsylvania DAs with all who condemned the heinous actions that led to the killing of George Floyd. We also testified to the role prosecutors can play to address racial bias and inequity in the judicial system. Locally, DAs are committing to diversity, establishing task forces, listening to citizens and engaging with people to address issues around race and how to create safe and more just communities.
Opioids and Heroin
Addiction has a ripple effect into the criminal justice system, corrections, social services, health care costs and community stability. Local DAs are involved with programming in their communities to prevent addiction and get treatment for those battling addiction, including prescription drug drop-off boxes, naloxone distribution, and other collaborative efforts.
Diversion Programs and Problem-Solving Courts
When behaviors and conditions are linked to crime, diversion programs and problem-solving courts are part of a DA’s individualized approach to prosecution. Many counties utilize Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) and problem-solving courts such as Mental Health Courts, Veterans Courts and Juvenile Drug Courts that focus on treatment and rehabilitation.
Many people convicted of crimes need and deserve the opportunity to get their lives back on track. District attorneys recently supported Clean Slate legislation that is now law and will automatically seal 30 million criminal cases, and expand sealing to include more types of misdemeanors.
The key to probation reform is a balanced approach. Our goal is a better probation system without unintended consequences, such as reduced public safety, reductions in collected restitution, or increased incarceration. We can and should significantly improve our probation system by providing meaningful incentives to those on probation.
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association has a non-partisan Best Practices Committee to assist in the proper and just evolution of the criminal justice system. Topics the committee has addressed include body-worn police cameras, eyewitness identifications, officer-involved shootings, and disclosing credibility issues involving police witnesses.