CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF PAROLE AND PROBATION IN PENNSYLVANIA

1909

The Act of 1909, May 10, P.L. 495 No. 275 Is passed by the legislature, establishing and authorizing the criteria for: 1) Indeterminate Sentencing in Pennsylvania where the minimum shall not exceed one-fourth of the maximum sentence2) The appointment of probation and parole officers, as well as the payment of their salaries and expenses, 3) The manner of sentencing offenders to certain probation (by suspending their sentence),  4) The consequences of an offender violating the terms of their probation, and 5) Releasing certain convicts on parole to complete the remainder of their imposed sentence outside the confines of the penitentiary. The Act of 1909 (supra) also established that the maximum should be treated as the actual sentence and the minimum shall only give the offender the right to apply for relief (parole) from the imposed sentence... This Act became effective June 30, 1909.


1911

2 years later, another Indeterminate Sentencing Act was passed, repealing the Act of 1909 (supra) and established much of the same subject matter as previously authorized. However, the Act of 1911, June 19, P.L. 1055, went a step further by:  1) Imposing Indeterminate Sentencing without fixing the proportion between minimum and maximum sentences, thus leaving such determination within the discretion of the court, and 2) Extending the powers and duties of board of prison inspectors of penitentiaries, although their powers only applied to prisoners who were sentenced indeterminately ... this Act became effective June 30, 1911.


1921

An Act enabling the court with the power to parole prisoners confined in county jails, workhouses, and houses of correction is passed by the legislature. This Act of the General Assembly is cited as the Act of May 5, 1921, P.L. 379.


1923

The Act of 1923, May 11, P.L. 204, is passed by the legislature. The power to parole prisoners confined in county jails, workhouses, and houses of correction may now be exercised by the magistrates, aldermen, and justices after hearing upon a petition of which due notice has been given.


1923

The Act of 1923, June 29, P.L. 975, No. 397, (hereafter referred to as the "Ludlow Act") was passed solely for the purpose of amending Section 6 of the Act of 1911, June 19, P.L. 1055. Pursuant to this new "Ludlow Act", all Indeterminate Sentences had to have a minimum limit that shall never exceed one-half of the maximum sentence prescribed by the sentencing court. "Ludlow Act" also established that: 1) No person sentenced for an indeterminate term shall be entitled to any benefits under the Commutation Act of May 11, 1901, P.L. 166, No. 1332) "Ludlow Act" would not interfere with the operation of the Commutation Act of 1901 (supra),  3) Before parole shall be granted, notice of intention to do so shall be given at least 10 days prior to release by the Board of Prison Inspectors to the judge or judges of the court having jurisdiction of cases of the like character, and  4) Similar notice was also to be given to the district attorney then in office of said county... "Ludlow Act" stated no effective date.


1929

6 years later, the Act of 1929, May 1, P.L. 1182, established the procedures and powers of the State Board of Pardons and boards of trustees of penitentiaries where prisoners released on parole violate the terms of such parole. This Act also fixed the penalty for such violations.


1929

On the same day, the legislature also passed the Act of 1929, May 1, P.L. 1184, which further established the jurisdiction of the State Board of Parole with respect to inmates of State penal and correctional institutions released on parole.


1941

12 years later, the Act of 1941, August 6, P.L. 861, No. 323, (hereafter referred to as the "Pennsylvania Board of Parole Act of 1941")  was passed by the legislature to create a uniform and exclusive system for the administration of parole in this Commonwealth (of Pennsylvania). This Act also established: 1) The "Pennsylvania Board of Parole", as well defining it's jurisdiction, duties, powers, and functions, 2) The Jurisdiction the "Pennsylvania Board of Parole" had concerning the supervision of persons placed upon probation,  3) Dividing the Commonwealth into administrative districts for the purposes of parole,  4) Making violations of certain provisions of this Act misdemeanors, and  5) Providing the appropriations for this Act to the sum of $400,000.00 which was intended to cover full funding until May 31, 1943. The "Pennsylvania Board of Parole Act of 1941" also repealed any inconsistent legislation found in any previously enacted Act(s) of the General Assembly... The "Pennsylvania Board of Parole Act of 1941"  became effective June 1, 1942.


 

IMPORTANT EDITORS NOTE:

[It must be duly noted that the parole powers that exist in Pennsylvania do not derive from the Act of 1941, August 6, P.L. 861, No. 323 (also known as The Pennsylvania Board of Parole Act of 1941). The actual jurisdiction to grant parole derived from the Act of 1911, June 19, P.L. 1055. As a result, The Board of Probation and Parole hearings are currently being held pursuant to the jurisdiction provided in the Act of 1911 (supra).]

 



1943

2 years later, the Act of 1943, May 27, P.L. 767, No. 324, was passed by the legislature to establish a great number of amendings as well as a few repeals to the "Pennsylvania Board of Parole Act of 1941"  (supra). Among the many changes being made to the aforementioned Act included amendings to Sections 2, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 26, and 31, as well as repeals to Sections 9, 24, and 36... This Act became effective June 1, 1943.


1951

The Act of 1951, August 24, P.L. 1401, No. 337, is passed by the legislature, containing more amendments to the "Pennsylvania Board of Parole Act of 1941" (supra), and effectively changing the literature in Sections 5, 7, 11, and 21 of that previous Act. 


1957

The Act of 1957, June 28, P.L. 429, No. 235 is passed by the legislature, making amendments to Section 21.1 of the "Pennsylvania Board of Parole Act of 1941". Among these amendments included 1) Changes to the disposition of convicted parole violators, 2) Changes to the disposition of convicted technical violators, 3) The addition of Section 21.1(c) Recommitment, which established the criteria for recommitment for all such violators... This Act stated no effective date.


1965

Senate Bill 313 (Printer's Number 323) is introduced and referred to the Judiciary General on March 2, 1965. The sole purpose of Senate Bill 313 was to authorize the release on parole for certain persons serving life imprisonment after 15 years of incarceration. Senate Bill 313 is such a landmark bill because it attempts to be the first form of legislation to provide "Administrative Notice" to the Pennsylvania Board of Parole, for convicts serving life imprisonment.

[Editor's Note: It must be duly noted that Senate Bill 313 was attempting to amend the Pennsylvania Board of Parole Act of 1941, August 6, P.L. 861. No. 323.]


1965

Later that same year, the Act of 1965, December 27, P.L. 1230, No. 501, was passed by the legislature. Some of the noteworthy issues established in the Act included:  1) Amending the "Pennsylvania Board of Parole Act of 1941" (supra) , 2) Changing the name of the "Pennsylvania Board of Parole" to the "Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole",  3) Increasing the size of said Board,  4) Imposing new powers and duties upon said Board, which included (among other duties) to supervise and make pre-sentence investigations and reports as provided by law, as well as to collect and maintain copies of all pre-sentence investigations and reports, and 5) Granting the Board power to parole prisoners sentenced to Indeterminate or Determinate sentences... This Act stated differing effective dates for different Sections.


[Editor's Note: It should be duly noted that the Act of 1965, December 27 P.L. 1230, No. 501, failed to include any Savings Provision in its title for any particular Section of the Act of 1941, August 6, P.L. 861, No. 323, which in turn institutes an "implied repeal" instead of an amending to the aforesaid Act. (see: "Statutory Construction Act" of 1937, May 28, P.L. 1019, No. 282, Sections 71 and 91). However, the General Assembly never formally acknowledged this mishap / omission because this issue has never been presented to the Courts. As a result, the "Pennsylvania Board of Parole Act of 1941", along with all of it's amedings, proceeded on to carry the same merit as official law.]


1993

The Act of 1993, June 22, P.L. 109, No. 25 is passed by the Legislature to amend the Parole Act of 1941, August 6, P.L. 861, No. 323.


1994

A year later, the Act of 1994, December 27, P.L. 1359, No. 159, is passed by the Legislature to amend Section 21 of the Parole Act of 1941 (supra), and to further provide for pre-parole drug screening tests... This Act became effective February 26, 1995.


1995

The Act of 1995, June 1, P.L. 1020, No. 16 (SS1) is passed by the Legislature to amend Section 21 of the Parole Act of 1941 (supra), as well as Section 22 of the Act of 1943, May 27, P.L. 767, No. 324. This new Act also repealed Section 34 of the Act of 1943 (supra) and instituted a new section within that Act at Section 34.1. The Act of 1995, June 1, P.L. 1020, No. 16 (SS1) also further provided for investigations and recommendations to the Board of Pardons... This Act became effective August 1, 1995.


1996

The Act of 1996, December 18, P.L. 1098, No. 164 is passed by the Legislature to amend Section 1 of the Parole Act of 1941, August 6, P.L. 861, No. 323; Section 2 of the Act of 1986, October 9, P.L. 1424, No. 134Section 10 of the Act of 1965, December 27 P.L. 1230, No. 501;  and Sections 22 and 33 of the Act of 1995, June 1, P.L. 1020, No. 16 (SS1).  The Act of 1996, December 18, P.L. 1098, No. 164 also authorized the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to relinquish jurisdiction over a parolee to the proper Federal authorities where the parolee is placed into the Federal Witness Protection Program... This Act became effective immediately (December 18, 1966).


1998

The Act of 1998, June 11, 1998 P.L. 461, No. 66 is passed by the Legislature to amend Section 21 of the Parole Act of 1941 (supra), which was previously amended in the Act of 1995, June 1, P.L. 1020, No. 16 (SS1). The main issue of importance contained in this new Act was the addition of Section 21(d) which stated: "When the board releases a parolee from a State or local correctional facility, the board shall provide written notice to the probation department located in the county where the sentencing order was imposed of the release and new address of the parolee."  This Act became effective August 11, 1998.


1998

The Act of 1998, December 21, P.L. 1077, No. 143 is passed by the Legislature to amend Section 18 of the Parole Act of 1941, August 6, P.L. 861, No. 323Section 19 of the Act of 1986, October 9, P.L. 1424, No. 134Section 21 of the Act of 1998, June 11, P.L. 461, No. 66Section 21.1 of the Parole Act of 1941, August 6, P.L. 861, No. 323Section 33 of the Parole Act of 1941 (supra) which was previously amended by the Act of 1996, December 18, P.L. 1098, No. 164. Also, Section 33.1 was added / introduced in this new Act... This Act became effective February 21, 1999.


2008

The Act of 2008, September 25, P.L. 1052, No. 83 is passed by the Legislature to amend Section 1 of the Parole Act of 1941 (supra) which was previously amended with the Act of 1996, December 18, P.L. 1098, No. 164Sections 3, 4, and 16.2(a) of the Act of 1986, October 9, P.L. 1424, No. 134Section 17 of the Act of 1965 December 27, P.L. 1230, No. 501Section 21 of the Parole Act of 1941 (supra) which was previously amended with the Act of 1998, December 21, P.L. 1077, No. 143Section 21.1(c) of the Parole Act of 1941 (supra) which was previously amended with the Act of 1957, June 28, P.L. 429, No. 235;  and Section 22.1 of the Parole Act of 1941 (supra) which was previously amended with the Act of 1990, July 11, P.L. 476, No. 114... This new Act became effective November 25, 2008.


2009

The Act of 2009, August 11, P.L. 147, No. 33 is passed by the Legislature as the new Act governing the authority of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. This new Act repealed the Parole Act of 1941, August 6, P.L. 861, No. 323 in its entirety, 58 additional Acts in their entirety, 5 Articles/Sections of other previously existing Acts, and any other existing laws that read contrary to the statutes in this new Parole Act were also repealed by this new Act of legislation... This Act states an effective date of 60 days after its approval (which would be October 11, 2009).

 

2012

 

The Act of July 5, 2012, P.L. 1050, No. 122 (which was introduced as "Senate Bill 100") is signed by Governor Tom Corbett on July 5, 2012. Among the many matters which are addressed in this new Act are:    1) The repeal of "pre-release" option for prisoners;    2) Changing Community Correction Centers (CCC's) and Community Corrections Facilities (CCF's) for offenders so that technical violators may be diverted to such centers/facilities as opposed to State Correctional Institutions (SCI's); and    3) Changing the eligibility requirements for County Intermediate Punishment (CIP), State Intermediate Punishment (SIP), and Boot Camps... This Act became effective on This Act states different effective dates ranging from August 5, 2012- July 1, 2013, all depending on which section of this Act you are referring to.

 

 

2012

 

On October 25, 2012, Governor Tom Corbett signed Senate Bill 850 (Printers Number 2475; Session of 2012) into law, resulting in the Act of October 25, 2012, P.L. 1655, No. 204. This new Act was the Pennsylvania General Assembly's legislative response to the judicial decision reached by the U.S. Supreme Court in   Evan Miller v. Alabama    on June 24, 2012. Pursuant to this new Act, the average legal practitioner would assume that juvenile offenders sentenced for 1st Degree or 2nd Degree murder life sentences possess parole eligibility. However, that assumption is incorrect because the Act of October 25, 2012, P.L. 1665, No. 204  never amended  61 Pa.C.S. Section 6137 (a). General criteria for parole to give the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole jurisdiction to grant parole for offenders sentenced to a maximum term of "Life Imprisonment"... As a result, the Act of October 25, 2012, P.L. 1655, no. 204, creates the misconception that juvenile offenders convicted of 1st or 2nd Degree Murder after June 24, 2012 can recieve a minimum term (parole eligibility). However, this Act does not provide such parole eligibility by law!!!

 

 

[EDITOR'S NOTE: For further analysis on this shocking fact, go to the PAsentencing.com homepage and click on the "WHAT IS A LIFE SENTENCE IN PENNSYLVANIA? -Part 3" option. ]

 

 

 

                                                                                Signing off,

                                                                              The Solutionist

 

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