Bernstine Bill on Parole Process for Violent Offenders Passes House Committee
1/27/2021
Markie’s Law Bill advances to the full House for consideration
HARRISBURG – Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence) announced today that his legislation which focuses on the parole process for violent offenders in the wake of the 2019 murder of a child in Lawrence County, passed the House Judiciary Committee.

Markie’s Law was named after Mark Mason, an 8-year-old boy who was brutally stabbed to death by a man who was paroled at the end of his minimum sentence for homicide, even after committing two separate assaults of other inmates while behind bars.

“I applaud the House Judiciary Committee for approving this legislation,” said Bernstine. “Markie’s Law bill must get over the finish line and signed into law by the governor.”

House Bill 146 would also postpone consideration of a violent inmate’s parole an additional 24 months following the inmate’s minimum release date for each conviction for a violent offense while incarcerated. In addition, it would suspend consideration of an inmate’s parole an additional 12 months if the inmate attempts to escape, smuggles contraband, or retaliates or intimidates witness while incarcerated.

“I was dismayed to learn that the perpetrator of this heinous and senseless act was convicted of two separate assaults on other inmates while serving his original sentence. The parole board determined this inmate was not only rehabilitated, but that he no longer posed a risk to the public at the conclusion of his minimum sentence.

“I believe it is undeniable that an inmate’s violent acts while in prison proved that the inmate has not demonstrated the necessary level of commitment to his rehabilitation. He/she continues to represent a threat to the public and the interests of the Commonwealth would be injured by the inmate’s parole at the conclusion of a minimum sentence.”

The bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 2019-20 legislative Session, but was not considered by the full Senate by the end of the session.

Keith Burley, a convicted murderer, was released from prison in March of 2019 after serving 20 years in a robbery/shooting death. After serving his minimum sentence, Burley was arrested in early July in the stabbing death of Mason, who he abducted in a car with his 7-year-old brother during a domestic dispute with the boys’ mother.

House Bill 146 now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Representative Aaron Bernstine
10th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Rick Leiner
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