Jun. 24, 2020

HARRISBURG – Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence) applauded Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) and members of the committee for unanimously passing his legislation that would preclude the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole from paroling an inmate at the expiration of his or her minimum sentence if the inmate was convicted of a violent offense or an obstruction of justice while incarcerated.

Bernstine’s legislation, House Bill 1855 or Markie’s Law, was named after Mark Mason, an 8-year-old from Lawrence County, 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.

“Violent individuals who are sent to prison and continue to commit violent acts while incarcerated should not be released on the streets after serving the bare minimum of their sentence,” said Bernstine. “These individuals are a danger to society, and the death of Markie Mason is a clear and tragic example of that.”

The bill 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 witnesses while incarcerated.

Bernstine stressed passage of this legislation by the Senate Judiciary Committee today brings the state one step closer toward protecting citizens across the Commonwealth from dangerous criminals.

“Markie’s Law will hold inmates accountable for their actions while incarcerated,” said Larry Blackwell, president of the Pennsylvania Corrections Officers Association. “This legislation makes it safer for us to effectively do our job.”
“I want to commend Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence) and Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa, who have worked with me on this legislation from the outset,” said Bernstine. “I have also received outstanding support from the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.

House Bill 1855 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Representative Aaron Bernstine
10th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Rick Leiner
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