Public Defense

An-Li Herring / Keystone Crossroads

On a humid summer day, Shawnray Byrd works a new job renovating a home just outside Pittsburgh. During a break, he says he’s grateful to be employed and free.

Marc Levy / AP

Governor Tom Wolf and a number of legislators are pushing for a slew of changes to the state’s criminal justice system.

The call comes in the wake of a few victories for reform advocates, but in the face of opposition from a significant portion of the legislature’s GOP majority.

On the agenda are eight initiatives, including standardizing bail across counties, pumping more money into public defense, providing a clean slate for old misdemeanors, and a second phase of Justice Reinvestment initiatives aimed at reducing recidivism.