Senator Anthony H. Williams

HARRISBURG – December 14, 2023 – Last night, the Senate voted to pass a bill sponsored by Sens. Anthony Williams (D-8), Lisa Baker (R-20) and Camera Bartolotta (R-46) that will reform Pennsylvania’s probation system.

“People deserve a second chance,” Williams said. “With this bill, we begin re-imagining probation as a pathway to rehabilitation rather than a cycle of punishment; we can restore dignity and empower individuals, and in turn, they will have a greater chance to regain their status as contributing members of our communities.”

A number of states across the nation have created new frameworks to minimize punishments for technical violations of probation and allow judges to shorten probation time for good behavior or for completing certain programs. It is time to reform the probation system in Pennsylvania as well.

Senate Bill 838 establishes a mandatory probation review conference for probationers, providing criteria for when they occur and a presumption that probation will be terminated unless the individual does not qualify. It allows the review conference to occur earlier based on the good conduct of defendants by achieving specific educational, employment, or other goals. A provision to allow for waiving the mandatory review conference in cases where all stakeholders agree it is unnecessary is also included.