State House moves to keep people convicted of gun crimes in jail longer

The chamber narrowly passed a measure that would require judges to issue consecutive sentences for multiple crimes involving guns.

  • Katie Meyer

(Harrisburg) — The Republican-controlled state House has kicked off its first voting session of the new year with a slate of proposals aimed at keeping people who commit certain crimes in jail longer.

But so far, they’ve only pushed one through the chamber.

The measure that passed the House affects people convicted of committing multiple crimes with firearms.

It would require judges to give these defendants non-consecutive sentences, instead of letting them serve their time concurrently.

The bill divided the parties.

Allegheny County Democrat Tony DeLuca sponsored it, but 73 members of his own caucus voted against it, along with 18 Republicans.

Representative Greg Vitali, a Democrat from Delaware County, argued on the floor that the measure takes discretion away from judges.

“They, in their courtroom after hearing days of testimony — no offense — are in a better position to know what is justice than we are, sitting right here,” he told his colleagues.

The plan now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Governor Tom Wolf opposes it, as along with the American Civil Liberties Union and several other groups.

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