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Harris applauds passage of bipartisan occupational licensure reform

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


Harris seeking ambassadors to advise him on local issues

(May 21, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, May 21 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., is creating an ambassador program in his legislative district to help identify issues that have great impact on the community. The first meeting regarding Harris’ Ambassador Program will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 24 at Wharton Square Recreation Center, 2300 Wharton St. According to Harris, District Ambassadors will help identify issues and advise him on subjects that impact the local community, including education, economic issues, criminal justice reform and senior citizens’ issues. “I am excited to launch this program and hear from those who have their pulse on our community and its many needs,” Harris said. “As a public official, people’s input and feedback is very important to me. Working together, we can build a better community and accomplish a lot.” All residents of the 186th District are invited to attend the May 24 meeting. For more information on Harris’ ambassador program or to apply, contact Nakia Carr at 215-952-3378. Read more


Rep. Harris joins Wake Up With WURD to discuss reforming the Criminal Justice System

(May 10, 2018)

Rep. Harris explains how he and House Democrats are working to ensure the justice system puts justice for the people first. Read more


Harris advocates for funding to find a cure for sickle cell disease

(May 07, 2018)

HARRISBURG, May 7 – A group of organizations joined state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., to advocate for patients suffering from sickle cell disease and ask for support for science and clinical research. "People of color are suffering from sickle cell disease and their needs are going under the radar. We can no longer allow sickle cell to go unnoticed, questions to go unanswered and research to go unfunded," Harris said last week at the Capitol event. "My commitment, as the chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, is to provide support to individuals and their families whose lives have been touched by the disease." Sickle cell anemia is a serious blood disorder that causes acute pain, severe anemia, infections and vascular blockages that can lead to widespread organ damage and death. It is a genetic disease, affecting 2 million Americans, most often African-Americans and Hispanics. Until the past few decades, most people with sickle cell disease did not live beyond young adulthood, but advances in treatment have improved and lengthened the lives of patients who have access to good medical care. Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila, said, "This budget season, funding for sickle cell research is a priority. It’s our responsibility to provide the best health care available to patients when they need it and have it delivered in a way that provides the best outcomes because being born with sickle cell disease doesn’t mean Read more


Harris Shining Light on Sickle Cell

(May 02, 2018)

As chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris joined advocates to raise awareness about sickle cell disease. He specifically shined light on making sure people of color living with the illness don’t go under the radar and receive the treatment they need. Read more


Harris: Let's Get Real on SNAP

(May 01, 2018)

During House debate on instituting work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Chairman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus Rep. Jordan Harris condemns some of his colleagues using the rhetoric of people sitting at home collecting benefits. Harris says the real discussion goes much deeper than just not having a job. Read more


Rep. Harris joins Solomon Jones on Praise 107.9 to discuss the crisis in policing in our city and our state

(Apr 18, 2018)

Rep. Harris on how we need to take every opportunity to inform the people and improve the process. Read more


Harris Honors 40th Anniversary of Cheyney Champs

(Apr 17, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris welcomed members of the NCAA Division II National Champion Men's Basketball team from Cheyney University on the 40th Anniversary of winning their title. Read more


Harris supports new trial for Meek Mill

(Apr 16, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, April 16 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today released the following statement supporting Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s call to vacate the conviction of Philadelphia rapper Robert Williams, better known as Meek Mill, and Krasner's announcement of his support for Mill to receive a new trial: “Meek Mill is just one of the countless Black men in our nation who are disproportionately impacted by our criminal justice system – despite the fact that they are not more likely to commit crimes. With the arresting officer’s credibility being under question, it’s time that we include this into evidence and reassess the original charge," Harris said. “I hope that moving forward, Larry Krasner will implement policies that prevent misconduct among police officers through a stronger complaint review process. We must continue to speak up on behalf of the other ‘Robert Williamses’ who are victims of a broken justice system and who lack the capital and the resources to receive the justice they deserve. This is why the state Senate must immediately pass House Bill 1419 , to provide countless Pennsylvanians with a second chance.” ### Read more


Harris Clean Slate Bill Passes House

(Apr 11, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris is co-sponsor of legislation that would expunge minor criminal history from peoples' records, giving them a second chance at a useful & productive life in society. Read more


Pa. House passes Clean Slate legislation

(Apr 11, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 11 – The House today approved legislation, authored by state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., and state Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, that would create the Pennsylvania Clean State Law. Building upon Act 5 of 2016, H.B. 1419 would be the first bill of its kind anywhere in the United States. The bill would automatically seal low-level, non-violent misdemeanors, summary offenses and non-conviction records – with no action required by the person. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, called the passage of the legislation a major milestone in criminal justice reform for the nation. Act 5 of 2016 allows for sealing of records if a petition is filed by the accused. “House Bill 1419 will change criminal justice reform in the United States as we know it,” Harris said. “People would no longer have to suffer for mistakes they made years ago. They would no longer be subjected to life as a second-class citizen and would now be able to find gainful employment and successfully pursue a post-secondary education, among many other things. Today, we are sending a clear message that everyone deserves a second chance, regardless of your race, age, ZIP code or level of education.” “People who had a criminal conviction from decades past and have turned their lives around, without any other police involvement, have faced employment barriers due to their prior bad actions,” Delozier said. “By Read more