Pa. Legislative Black Caucus hosts public hearing on reentry initiatives

PHILADELPHIA, April 23– State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today announced that the PLBC hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on re-entry initiatives featuring Pennsylvanians who’ve overcome past transgressions and made storied contributions to the state.

Kinsey requested the hearing, held at Temple University, to further explore criminal justice reform initiatives that will help prepare individuals who paid their debt to society to transition back into the workforce and reduce recidivism rates. The Chairman was joined by legislators from the across the state including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster.

“Those who testified in front of the Democratic Policy Committee and the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus this evening, served as the proverbial shining light that will hopefully guide us to more empathetic lawmaking in regard to re-entry initiatives,” Kinsey said. “I chose re-entry as the topic of discussion because it correlates with so many other issues that Pennsylvanians are already facing. Empowered by the knowledge and experiences that have been shared here today, we can educate law makers and the public on how together, we can collaborate to reduce recidivism, and provide pathways to success for citizens re-entering society. We must work together to eliminate the barriers of discrimination, prejudice and stigma that often come with making a single mistake. These folks deserve the opportunity to see their families again, and prove that they are productive members of society, and we will never achieve that until we treat these people with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”

Sturla added: “It’s an honor to hear the stories of so many individuals who moved past their life’s difficulties and challenges and gone on to become great successes. The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and the Policy Committee remain committed to working together to help ensure that we keep people from returning to prison and giving them the tools they need to be positive contributors to our communities and possibly even help others from going down the wrong path.”

Testifiers included state officials, local officials, Boxing Champion Bernard Hopkins, advocacy groups and former inmates.

For a full list of testifiers, testimony and video from today’s hearing will be available at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee.