Rep. Harris Holds Bicycle Giveaway

(Dec 27, 2018)

PA State Rep. Jordan Harris provided bicycles and smiles at his Bike 186th Giveaway. This is the 6th year that Rep. Harris has held this event in his community. In that time he has given more than 1200 neighborhood children the gift of a bicycle for Christmas. Read more


Taking Clean Slate Nationwide as First Step

(Dec 03, 2018)

Host and KYW Newsradio community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg asks the burning questions about the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill supported by President Donald Trump. Jordan Harris, Pa. State Rep- 186th Dist., Jules Epstein, law professor at Temple University and Sameerah Shabazz, policy director at Ardella's House walk us through the issues from a local perspective. Read more


Harris works to take clean slate movement nationwide

(Nov 16, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 16 – This week, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., attended two roundtable events with the Center for American Progress to announce the launch of a national bipartisan clean slate campaign. On Thursday, Harris joined the group to discuss how automated record-cleaning would help to reverse both the immediate and long-term consequences that criminal records impose on future education, employment and housing opportunities. “So many people have done what was legally required of them, but have been unable to become fully productive citizens again,” Harris said. “Taking this movement nationwide will improve the economy, create jobs and provide hope to those who had a criminal conviction from decades past and have turned their lives around.” Today, Harris joined the group for a discussion on how to harness technology to close the second-chance gap without legislation. Harris said this campaign seeks to undo the effects of one-sided policy that has been in place across the country for decades. Currently, one in three Americans has a criminal record and is subject to 50,000 potential restrictions on jobs, housing, credit and other basics. These events come one month after Harris lauded Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, for introducing H.R. 6677 , which would automatically seal a person’s federal record if they have been convicted of a nonviolent offense under Read more


Harris chosen to be Democratic Whip

(Nov 13, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 13 – State Rep. Jordan Harris was elected today to be Democratic whip of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives during the 2019-20 session. Harris has represented the 186 th District in Philadelphia since first being elected to the House in 2012. “I am ecstatic to serve in this new post and to have a larger role in shaping the agenda of the House Democratic Caucus,” Harris said. “I’m thankful to my colleagues for placing their trust in me. “I look forward to building on what the current leadership team has done. The general election results highlighted the strength and diversity of our caucus. The future is very bright for Democrats in Pennsylvania.” The whip is responsible for making sure that Democratic members attend session and generally understand the specifics of legislation and procedural votes in the House. Harris currently chairs the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and he will be the first African-American to serve as whip since Rep. K. Leroy Irvis in the 1970s. Read more


PA Dept. of Corrections Secretary answers your questions

(Nov 09, 2018)

The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus recently hosted a Town Hall Meeting with PA Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel to discuss the recent lockdowns and its police changes within the prison system. Secretary Wetzel provided answers to the following submitted questions. His responses are in bold . Your new mail and visiting policies will severely affect my family. I feel hopeless that I cannot now send my brother a photo of a family event with a personal message written on it. A photo is a visit from a loved one far away. A photo speaks a thousand works, a scanned image does not. A scanned image is boot leg. I pay for the photos not a bootleg. Thank you for your comment. Although a duplicate of the photo is not on photo paper, the image copied is identical, in color and would capture any message that is written on it. In addition, we are pursuing the ability to send photos electronically on the tablets as well as other methods. This year (in Feb 2018), the PA DOC’s contract with GTL has an incentivized revenue structure; the more revenue from music, email, games, and books the DOC can get prisoners to generate from purchases, the higher the DOC’s commission rate. The contract was signed 6 months before the new policy that makes e-books people’s primary access point to reading materials. Why is the DOC profiting off limiting book access? E-books are not the primary access point to reading. It was an option that inmates had Read more


Heating aid via LIHEAP now open

(Nov 01, 2018)

The 2018-2019 Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP – is accepting applications for heating assistance grants. LIHEAP offers cash grants of $200 to $1,000 that are sent directly to the utility company to defray heating costs for eligible households, and crisis benefits of up to $600 for households in immediate danger of being without heat. Remember: These are grants and do not have to be repaid. This season’s income guidelines for both LIHEAP cash and crisis grants are $18,210 for an individual, $24,690 for couples and increases for each additional person in the household. Please click here for more LIHEAP information. Please consider visiting my office if you need help filing a LIHEAP application. Besides my office, LIHEAP information is available by: Contacting local County Assistance offices by phone or in person. Calling the LIHEAP Client Helpline at 1-866-857-7095 or PA Relay at 711 for the hearing impaired. Applying online at . Read more


Harris lauds National Clean Slate legislation introduced in Congress

(Oct 03, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 3 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., today lauded H.R. 6677 , legislation that would automatically seal a person’s federal record if they have been convicted of a nonviolent offense under section 404 of the Controlled Substances Act and any federal nonviolent offense, including marijuana. The legislation, introduced by Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, would allow individuals to petition the United States Courts to seal records for nonviolent offenses that are not automatically sealed, and to appeal within two years if the initial request was denied. Harris co-authored the Pennsylvania Clean Slate law . The first of its kind in the nation, this law will automatic seal records with second or third-degree misdemeanor offenses and charges that resulted in non-convictions. “This federal legislation is long overdue - for too long we have only been tough on crime. This approach has cost Pennsylvania and the U.S. billions of dollars and has taken an unnecessary toll on the lives of countless numbers of our citizens who have paid their legal debt to society but still find themselves locked out of a path to productive citizenry,” Harris said. “This bill supports the constitutional premise that our nation’s punitive actions are not cruel and unusual. I believe that a lifetime consequence for a youthful indiscretion is just that, both cruel and unusual. I commend Representative Rochester Blunt for asking Read more


Harris Working for Good Jobs

(Sep 26, 2018)

Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, state Rep. Jordan Harris, is working with the Pa. Public Utilities Commission to help people find good jobs in the utility sector with the website Read more


Harris: Punishment Does Not Fit the Crime

(Sep 25, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris argues in a meeting of the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee that a bill which would level a felony charge for criminal trespass in a critical infrastructure facility equates that crime to premeditated murder which seems unjust. Read more


PLBC applauds state funding for gun violence reduction initiatives

(Sep 07, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 7 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus applauded the announcement made today by Gov. Tom Wolf that more than $1.5 million in funding will be allocated across the commonwealth to help reduce gun violence. "The crisis created by the illegal gun violence epidemic cannot be averted without those on the frontlines of this fight having access to the resources and tools needed to do the work of healing those affected,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., PLBC chairman. “The PLBC is proud to stand with Governor Wolf as we begin to ensure that our communities have the support and tools needed to begin to address this public health crisis." “The PLBC has been working hard to address gun violence in our community as a public health issue, because we understood that resources follow public health concerns. Today’s grant is a result of our collective work with Governor Wolf, city officials, and local advocates,” said state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., vice chair of the PLBC. “As a member of the School Safety and Security Committee, I hope to bring more resources to Philadelphia to address gun violence in and around our schools.” “It is no secret there is a gun violence epidemic in the commonwealth. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and all points in between, shootings are taking lives one or two at a time, destroying our communities and families,” said state Rep. Chris Read more


Joint state legislative hearing at SCI-Dallas focuses on prison reform

(Aug 23, 2018)

DALLAS, Aug. 23 – A joint state House-Senate Democratic Legislative Policy Committee hearing was held Wednesday at the State Correctional Institute in Luzerne County to discuss proposals aimed at reforming the state’s justice and prison systems. Held at SCI-Dallas at the request of Rep. Jordan Harris, Rep. Donna Bullock and Sen. Sharif Street, all D-Phila., the hearing focused on S.B. 942 that would provide the possibility of parole for model prisoners serving life sentences. The legislation would enable someone sentenced to life imprisonment to be considered for parole after spending at least 15 years in prison. The state Board of Probation and Parole could still reject parole requests from those who do not deserve it or pose a safety risk to the public. Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., has introduced companion legislation ( H.B. 135 ) in the House of Representatives. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and co-sponsor of the recently-enacted clean slate law, said: “Yesterday's policy hearing and tour of SCI-Dallas was a historic moment. Both House and Senate Democratic Policy committees along with the PLBC joined to hear from a group of constituents often forgotten about. In this time of fiscal crisis, it's the legislature's responsibility to ensure that we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. There is much cost saving that can come from the Department of Corrections while keeping communities safe. Lengthy yet Read more


PLBC helps Cheyney University establish new research institute

(Jul 31, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, July 31 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, has released the following statement on today's announcement of a new research institute at Cheyney University: "I would like to congratulate Cheyney University on its establishing the Institute for the Contemporary African American Experience at the campus. The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus was pleased to play the leading role in bringing the Starbucks Foundation and Cheyney together, and we hope this partnership will benefit everyone involved. "Today's announcement is a welcome one as it shows that Cheyney, our nation's first historically black college or university (HBCU), and a jewel of the Pennsylvania system, is on its way back to prominence. This Institute for the Contemporary African American Experience will serve as not only a think tank for the African American community but also a place where implementable solutions are developed. What better place than Cheyney for such an endeavor? "Thank you to our Governor Tom Wolf, Chair of the Board of Governors for the State System Cynthia Shapira, Chair of the Council of Trustees Robert Bogle, Cheyney President Aaron Walton and all other partners and supporters. Most importantly, thank you to the students, faculty, staff and alumni who have never given up on Cheyney University, a university that will not die, for its value in the African American community and the Read more


Harris discusses Clean Slate law

(Jul 02, 2018)

Harris discusses clean slate law on KYW Radio Read more


Legislators offer ways to improve police-community relations

(Jun 26, 2018)

HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., along with Austin Davis, Ed Gainey and Jake Wheatley, all D-Allegheny, and other members from across the state, offered solutions on how to restore public trust and improve the professionalism of law enforcement, during a news conference today held at the Capitol. They hoped taking action will help improve police and community relations. The lawmakers unveiled a framework for legislative action, including three main initiatives: Establishing a licensing board or commission, similar to nearly every other professional occupation from doctors and lawyers to barbers, that would be able to independently take action regarding individuals’ ability to participate in that profession. They believe law enforcement should be no different. Creating a bipartisan caucus to bring policymakers together to offer ideas and best practices from across the commonwealth Enacting legislation similar to laws that apply to teachers, so that any incidents or transgressions related to their employment can be shared with potential employers. “As a parent, none of us want to ever bury a child,” said Wheatley, who is also Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee. “We want to find ways on how we can prevent and possibly eliminate police shootings of unarmed men and women, particularly those of color.” The news conference was held almost a week after the death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose, Read more


Harris’ ‘clean slate’ passes in the Senate, heads to governor’s desk

(Jun 22, 2018)

HARRISBURG, June 22 – A bill that would give people with low-level, nonviolent criminal records an opportunity to have their record sealed from public view is now awaiting Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature after passing in the Senate, said state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila. The Senate voted 49-0 in favor of House Bill 1419 , which Harris introduced with Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, last year. “I’m pleased to see real and meaningful change happening in Pennsylvania,” Harris said. “This legislation will help fix many inefficiencies and inequities of the criminal justice system in our commonwealth, by clearing the darkness, shining a light and creating a path to do what is right for our people. There’s still work to do, but we’re moving in the right direction. I look forward to the governor’s signature in the upcoming weeks.” Harris added Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long from the Philadelphia Eagles along with former Eagles player Torrey Smith were very supportive of H.B. 1419. Harris was instrumental in passing Act 5 of 2016, which provides a process for sealing non-violent misdemeanors, but requires that former offenders file a sealing petition with a court. Under H.B. 1419, though, no action would be needed by former offenders to automatically seal their records. The legislation proposes the following structure for sealing records: Non-violent misdemeanor convictions – sealing would occur after a Read more


Legislative package would help incarcerated women, parents in Pa.

(Jun 21, 2018)

HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., and colleagues today unveiled a package of legislation that would help incarcerated women and parents in Pennsylvania. "I'm glad that we're having vital, bipartisan discussions about criminal justice reform. I think it's crucial for those discussions to include women and girls of color," said Cephas, chairwoman of the Women and Girls of Color Subcommittee of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. "Women are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population. Since 1985, the rate of incarcerated women has increased at nearly double the male rate. The ACLU reports that African-American women and women of color are significantly overrepresented in the prison population. African-American women are 30 percent of incarcerated women in the United States, but only 13 percent of the female population. In addition, Hispanic women are 16 percent of incarcerated women but only 11 percent of all women in the U.S." Cephas plans to introduce a bill to create a Women and Girls Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. "I believe this would aid the commission in its work as it specifically relates to research and programs that will have a direct impact on women and girls." Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the PLBC, said, “This package of legislation would help support incarcerated women in the commonwealth’s prison Read more


PLBC lauds commission’s delay on risk assessment tool vote

(Jun 14, 2018)

HARRISBURG, June 14 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus released the following statement after the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing voted to postpone action on the sentence risk assessment tool: “I applaud the members of the commission for delaying their action to vote for a tool that is in no way a crystal ball of predicting whether a convicted offender will commit another crime after they have served their sentence,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris, chairman of the PLBC. “A tool of predictability has no place in the criminal justice system, especially in a program that could end badly for citizens of this commonwealth, particularly people of color. There is certainly no predictability to the degree of accuracy of this tool as a result, so we will continue to see bias against young black males who are incarcerated at a nine-to-one ratio than other races.” “As a former public defender in Philadelphia, I always encouraged judges to sentence the individuals who were in front of them. I often reminded these jurists that "sentencing guidelines" are simply "guidelines," state Rep. Joanna McClinton said. “Computer statistics should not determine one's sentence because they cannot accurately predict one's ability to be rehabilitated, make positive changes and be properly punished. I do not want to interfere with a judge's ability to fairly administer justice and will not be voting to Read more


Harris Keeping the PAPromise

(Jun 06, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris is a lead sponsor of the PA Promise initiative that would make college free or more affordable for many students and give them the best chance to succeed in the classroom while paving the way for a brighter future. Read more


Harris, Roebuck and Sen. Hughes introduce legislation pushing for free and affordable college for Pa. college and university students

(Jun 06, 2018)

HARRISBURG – June 6, 2018 – State Reps. Jordan Harris and James Roebuck, both D-Phila., joined Sen. Vincent J. Hughes, D-Phila./Montgomery, to introduce legislation for the Pennsylvania Promise initiative, a program that would make college free and affordable to many students across the state. The legislators were joined by guests from the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) President Ken Mash, dozens of APSCUF members, a student and other members of the House and Senate announcing Senate Bill 1111 and House Bill 2444. “Helping our students should be priority number one,” Senator Hughes said. “I’ve heard from far too many college students who are struggling to make ends meet. They’re starving and some can’t maintain stable housing throughout the school year. They need something like PA Promise to make college reality.” The bills would: Cover up to four years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate enrolled full-time at one of the Commonwealth’s 14 public community colleges. Cover up to four years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate with a family income less than or equal to $110,000 per year at one of the 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education or a state-related university. Cover room and board for any recent high school graduate with a family income less than or equal to $48,000 per year at a Read more


PLBC applauds PIAA vote to change headgear policy

(May 24, 2018)

HARRISBURG, May 24 – State Rep. Jordan Harris and state Sen. Shariff Street, both D-Phila., applauded the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s vote to change its policy on headgear following protest from the Muslim community. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with Street and members of the PLBC, joined the protest after 16-year-old Nasihah Thompson-King was excluded from participating in a basketball game because she refused to remove her hijab. Harris said, “I applaud the PIAA for protecting the rights of children of all faiths in this commonwealth to participate in athletic events while maintaining their religious and cultural identities. I thank my colleague Senator Street for taking the lead on this issue on behalf of the Black Caucus. Additionally, I thank members of the Muslim community and of all faiths for standing up against this injustice, but lastly, and most importantly, I thank young Ms. Nasihah Thompson-King for the strength of her convictions." Street said, “The PIAA’s historic decision to remove guidelines that unduly burden the free exercise of religion for student athletes is in compliance with the law, morally sound and victory for American values, the foundation of which was established here in Philadelphia in our great commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The collective action of my colleagues, the Muslim community and, most importantly, the courage of Nasihah Read more