Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice Reform

Senator Casey believes we need to rebalance our criminal justice system to reduce the overcrowding of prisons with nonviolent offenders serving unnecessarily long sentences, and instead focus on violent crime, which poses the greatest risk to our communities. 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 and voted for the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation signed into law in December 2018 that included a number of improvements to the criminal justice system. While there is much more to be done, the First Step Act is a good start as we work to further improve our criminal justice system.

  • This bill eased unnecessary mandatory minimums and gave judges more discretion in the sentencing of repeat offenders.

  • It also made retroactive the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity, to allow certain nonviolent offenders to petition courts for an individualized review of their sentence.

  • The bill also improved recidivism reduction programming, including education and job training, and incentivized offenders to participate by allowing them to earn time credits that can be spent in prerelease custody.

  • 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.Senator Casey cosponsored the Democracy Restoration Act, which restores federal voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals who have completed their sentences.

  • Senator Casey has signed multiple appropriations letters 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.

  • 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 some 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.

Juvenile Justice Reform

Children are not little adults. They have unique needs and require different treatment. Nowhere is this more true than in 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, which was included in the Juvenile Justice Reform Act that was signed into law in December 2018. This bill empowers 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 to 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. The Juvenile Justice Reform Act passed in 2018 limited the detention of status offenders to seven days and required the Department of Justice to develop best practices for states to close the loophole entirely.

  • 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 has signed appropriations letters supporting funding for a wide variety of juvenile justice programs through the Department of Justice, including the Youth Mentoring Program.

  • Senator Casey has signed appropriations letters 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.

Latest

  • Casey To Every Single PA College: What Are You Doing To Address Campus Sexual Assault?

    In an effort to ensure that students across Pennsylvania have a safe learning environment, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), primary author of the Campus SaVE Act, which was enacted as a part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, is pressing 123 colleges and universities in the Commonwealth to ensure that they have adequate policies in place to prevent campus sexual assault. Specifically, Casey is requesting information about institutions' efforts to fight this epidemic. Read More


  • Casey, Murkowski Introduce Bill to Support Survivors of Domestic Violence

    U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently introduced the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act (S. 2259), which would enhance and expand support, protection and prevention for Americans affected by family violence, domestic violence and dating violence. More than 10 million people in the United States are abused each year, and more than one third of women and men in America report that they experienced sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. The bill strengthens and updates the National Domestic Violence Hotline to better serve underserved populations, such as people who are deaf or hard of hearing, expands prevention efforts and creates a new program that provides resources for underserved populations. Read More


  • As FBI Reports of Hate Crimes Increase, Casey, Colleagues Introduce Protections Against Gun Violence

    Yesterday, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) reintroduced legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of those who commit criminal acts based on hate. The Disarm Hate Act would prevent individuals convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms. Joining Senator Casey as cosponsors of the bill are Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Read More


  • Casey, Wild: If You See Or Suspect Child Abuse, You Must SPEAK Up

    As children across the country continue to suffer from horrific abuse, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Representative Susan Wild (D-PA-7). have introduced the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid Act (SPEAK Up Act). The bill would require states to implement a consistent standard for child abuse reporting by requiring those with responsibility over children, such as medical professionals, teachers and coaches, to report suspected child abuse and neglect directly to state authorities. Casey's bill was first introduced in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. The legislation would tie states’ child abuse prevention funding to the adoption of new standards to better protect abuse victims, and require individuals to report directly to the appropriate state authorities. Read More


  • Five Months Since Massacre At Tree Of Life Synagogue: Casey & Colleagues Continue Push To Curb Hate Crimes

    As communities around the world attempt to heal in the wake of the New Zealand shooting, and as we commemorate five months since the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Rep. José Serrano (D-NY) have introduced a measure that aims to prevent online extremism from turning into real-life hate crimes. Casey is joined in this effort by Senators Booker (D-NJ), Harris (D-CA), Jones (D-AL), Klobuchar (D-MN), Menendez (D-NJ), Sanders (I-VT) and Van Hollen (D-MD). Read More


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