McClinton condemns bill for reviving unconstitutional mandatory minimums

HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, spoked out against H.B. 741, which aims to revive mandatory minimum sentences for a number of drug-related offenses. The bill was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

McClinton said a letter that she received from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association stated that mandatory minimums work to improve public safety, something that she said she wrestles with.

“I wonder where the safety has improved,” McClinton said. “Time and time again, I look at the unfortunate homicide rate in Philadelphia and the number of non-fatal shootings where I live and they are always high, no matter how many people are behind bars serving 10-20, 25 to life.”

House Bill 741 seeks to revive mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes that were ruled unconstitutional in cases before both the Pennsylvania and U.S. supreme courts. It also would increase sentences for certain offenses.

“This bill would potentially get more support if there were studies that showed crime was reduced, that neighborhoods are safer, that people stop selling drugs at the same intersection where someone gets arrested,” McClinton said. “Where is the decreased recidivism? Why hasn’t it happened yet in my community? Why are there drugs readily available and we have all these sentences, yet nothing has changed?”   

McClinton has been a strong advocate on criminal justice issues by sponsoring and co-sponsoring legislation and hosting expungement clinics.