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Revision Of Firearm Sentencing Law Would Change How Violent Offenders Serve Prison Time

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Ted S. Warren
/
AP Photo
In this Jan. 12, 2018 photo, Ben Garrison, of Puyallup, Wash., wears his Kel-Tec RDB gun, and several magazines of ammunition, during a gun rights rally at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.

A violent crime committed with a firearm in Pennsylvania holds a mandatory five-year sentence tacked onto any other convictions for the same incident. State Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny County) wants to amend this law to make sure those sentences are served one after another.

"What's happening is, the judges are running them concurrently instead of consecutively, and the [additional] five years don't mean anything," DeLuca said.

This often happens in cases with plea deals, he said, which defeats the purpose of additional jail time for gun violence. 

Last month, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that the commonwealth's prison population has gone down for the fourth year in a row. 

"The Wolf administration is concentrating on narcotics and marijuana offenses, which I certainly support," DeLuca said. "I don't support somebody committing a crime with a gun [and] being lenient on them."

In response to DeLuca's bill, Wolf said he's focusing on the positive aspects of the state's criminal justice system.

"The crime rate is down in Pennsylvania; that's a reality," Wolf said. "I think we need to look at those sorts of things rather than take a traditional approach to this, which is like something out of the 1970s or 1980s." 

If the bill passes a final vote in the state House on Tuesday afternoon, it will go to the Senate. 

Kathleen J. Davis covers news about just about anything at WESA. She’s also the primary reporter and producer of WESA’s weekly series Pittsburgh Tech Report. Kathleen originally hails from the great state of Michigan, and is always available to talk about suburban Detroit and Coney Island diners. She lives in Bloomfield.
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