Mar. 16, 2021

Legislation will protect public from violent offenders

HARRISBURG – In the wake of the 2019 murder of a child in Lawrence County, the House of Representatives today overwhelmingly passed legislation authored by Aaron Bernstine (R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence) which focuses on the parole process for violent offenders.

House Bill 146, or 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 my House colleagues for approving this legislation,” said Bernstine. “My legislation will postpone consideration of a violent inmate’s parole until an additional 24 months following the inmate’s minimum release date for each conviction for a violent offense while incarcerated. In addition, the bill will postpone consideration for parole an additional 12 months if the inmate attempts to escape, smuggles contraband, or retaliates or intimidates witnesses while incarcerated.”

Keith Burley, a convicted murderer, was released from prison in March 2019 after serving 20 years in a robbery/shooting death. Burley was arrested four months later 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.

The parole board determined that Burley was not only rehabilitated, but also that he no longer posed a risk to the public at the conclusion of his minimum sentence. 

“This legislation will help foster a safer environment in prison as inmates will have a strong incentive to behave,” said Bernstine.

House Bill 146 which the House approved by a 144-58 vote, now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Representative Aaron Bernstine
10th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives