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Pa. House Votes To Restore Minimum Sentences

Harrisburg (News Radio 1020 KDKA) - The state House has again passed legislation to restore mandatory minimum sentences in Pennsylvania.

Previous mandatory minimum sentence laws were struck down by courts. A bill to address the courts' concerns and restore mandatory minimum sentences for a number of violent crimes and drug trafficking offenses, sponsored by Republican Todd Stephens, passed the House Wednesday.

"It does two things: it increases public safety, and it ensures justice for crime victims," said Stephens.

But, Democrat Jordan Harris, of Philadelphia, was among numerous opponents of the bill who say sentencing should be left to elected judges.

"It removes the discretion from the judge and gives a 'one size fits all' approach to the criminal justice system," said Harris.

"The statistics show and the experts tell us mandatory minimums to do not reduce recidivism and they do not increase public safety," Madeleine Dean, a Democrat from Montgomery County, said.

The bill now goes to the Senate, which never acted on similar legislation passed by the House in lawmakers' previous two-year session.

A spokesman says Gov. Tom Wolf also "strongly opposes" the bill.

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