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Laurel Gift Prepares Testimony for PACDL about Sentence Risk Assessment Instrument

12/13/2018

Laurel Gift, co-chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL) contributed to testimony presented on December 6, 2018 to the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing regarding its revisions to the Sentence Risk Assessment Instrument for use by sentencing courts to help determine the appropriate sentence within the limits established by law.

 

Gift is chair of Schnader’s Criminal Defense and Internal Investigation practice group. She co-chairs the PACDL Advocacy Committee with Petra K. Gross, Associate, Martson Law Offices. The December 6 testimony was prepared by Gift, Gross, and Beth Winters, Executive Director, PACDL, along with PACDL President Bradley Winnick, Dauphin County Public Defender’s Office. Winnick officially presented the testimony and spoke before the Commission, representing PACDL.

 

The testimony states, in part:

 

“The members of PACDL continue to have significant concerns about the use of the Risk Assessment Instrument as proposed by the Commission in determining the length of an individual’s sentence. Act 2010-95 mandates the Commission to adopt an Instrument, which can be used by the sentencing court to determine the appropriate sentence for an individual offender, within the limits of the law. Yet after more than three years, multiple hearings, and hundreds of hours of testimony by exoffenders, the defense bar, victims and families of victims, probation/parole officials, and law enforcement, the instrument currently being considered by this Commission, as an empirical tool to identify those offenders at a high risk of reoffending, is still no more reliable than a coin-flip. In addition to the concerns raised during our prior testimony, we raise additional concerns for your consideration today and urge the Commission to inform the General Assembly that it should rescind its mandate, in favor of economic and judicial economy.”

 

Click here to read the complete testimony. And click here to learn more about PACDL.