Criminal Justice

Fighting for Justice

Criminal Justice Reform

We need to rebalance our criminal justice system to target violent offenders who pose the greatest risk to our communities and reduce the overcrowding of prisons with nonviolent offenders serving unnecessarily long sentences. We also need to make sure that people who made mistakes but paid their debt to society are not forever punished by policies that keep them from exercising their civil rights and accessing the ladders of opportunity.

  • Senator Casey cosponsored the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. This bill would reduce unnecessary mandatory minimums and rebalance sentencing practices to target violent offenders instead of overcrowding prisons with nonviolent offenders. It would also improve programming for current prisoners to help them successfully reenter society upon their release and permit eligible nonviolent juvenile offenders to seal or expunge their record.
  • Senator Casey cosponsored the Fair Chance Act. This bill would “ban the box”, or prevent federal agencies and contractors from inquiring about job applicants’ criminal histories until after offering a conditional offer of employment.
  • In the 113th Congress, Senator Casey cosponsored the Smarter Sentencing Act. This bill would have reduced mandatory minimums for certain nonviolent offenders and made retroactive the provision of the Fair Sentencing Act that reduced the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity.
  • Senator Casey signed a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging finalization of a rule to reduce the cost of inmate phone calls. In many states, a 15 minute call has an average cost of more than five dollars. Phone service in prison is important to both prisoners and their families, especially their kids, and should be reasonably priced.
  • Senator Casey signed an appropriations letter in support of funding for the Legal Services Corporation, through which attorneys help clients secure basic needs like health care, Social Security, child support and assistance for domestic violence victims.

Juvenile Justice Reform

Children are not little adults.  They have unique needs and require different treatment. Nowhere is this more true than the justice system, where a positive intervention can put a child back on the right path, and a negative one can send a child spiraling into crime, drugs or violence. Senator Casey has been a leading advocate to implement evidence-based practices to keep children on the right path and make sure young people in the system are treated fairly and always with the goal of rehabilitation.

  • Senator Casey sponsored the Youth PROMISE Act. This bill would empower local communities to fund, evaluate and implement evidence-based youth violence prevention and intervention strategies.
  • Senator Casey sponsored the Prohibiting Detention of Youth Status Offenders Act. This bill would close the so-called “valid court order” loophole, which currently allows judges to incarcerate children for crimes that would not be illegal if they were adults, like truancy or breaking curfew.
  • Senator Casey sponsored the Juvenile Fee Transparency Act. This bill would create, as a condition for receiving federal juvenile justice grants, reporting requirements related to the assessment of fees in the juvenile justice system. Currently, little is known about when fees are assessed, and what the consequences of those fees are for the juveniles, their families and the system as a whole.
  • Senator Casey signed an appropriations letter supporting funding for a wide variety of juvenile justice programs through the Department of Justice.
  • Senator Casey signed an appropriations letter supporting funding for the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer Program, which recruits and trains volunteers to serve as advocates for abused and neglected children navigating the court system.

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