Pennsylvania’s crimes code is packed with redundant, harmful charges

In 1972, there were 282 possible criminal charges a Pennsylvania prosecutor could bring against a person accused of breaking the law.

Those charges, enumerated in Pennsylvania’s crimes code, outlawed offenses ranging from murder to petty theft.

In the past four decades, they’ve nearly quintupled in number — a trend that’s helped Pennsylvania’s prison populations skyrocket.

…Pennsylvania’s crimes code now contains 1,500 unique offenses.

…“These new[er] laws are a boon that allows [prosecutors] to bring numerous charges for a single crime,” Taylor said Thursday.

…Before lawmakers in Pennsylvania can pass any piece of legislation, staffers must prepare a fiscal note that analyzes its anticipated cost to taxpayers. Taylor said the Legislature should require a similar exercise for bills that would expand the crimes code, and complete an “existing crimes comparison statement” that would analyze similar offenses already on the books and justify the addition of a new one.

…The Legislature should create a dedicated task force to review the current code, drop all unnecessary and duplicative offenses, and reset the grades of all offenses in a way that truly reflects the appropriate seriousness of the crime.”

ACLU: Pennsylvania’s crimes code is packed with redundant, harmful charges | State & Region |

Not just PA


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