A Call For Restoration of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Law enforcement officials from five counties were in Norristown urging State officials to restore mandatory minimum sentences for violent criminals.

Most mandatory minimums have been off the table since a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Decision two years ago. Montgomery County State Representative Todd Stephens is the sponsor of a bill that addresses the issues raised by the high court. He says the mandatory minimums proposed in House Bill 741 would apply for the perpetrators of high level crime.

“These are violent offenses, theses are offenses like robbery, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping. Things along those lines.”

The bill also includes mandatory minimums for trafficking drugs in schools zones, selling large quantities of drugs and possessing a firearm while dealing drugs. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele says mandatory minimums help dry up the supply of illegal narcotics.

“And one of the ways we have done that and we have done that successfully over the years, is by catching a lower level drug offender, a dealer and then they know that they would be facing a mandatory sentence and they’re willing to cooperate and that’s how we’re able to work up the ladder.”

The bill could come up for a vote in the House in April. Steele, Stephens and other officials met in Norristown on Friday to call for restoration of mandatory minimum sentences.