Dec. 16, 2019

HARRISBURG—Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) called on tougher penalties for violent criminals in response to data from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing showing violent criminals who use guns, drug dealers who use guns and felons who illegally possess guns routinely received sentences below the standard sentencing guidelines in Pennsylvania.

“With all the focus on gun violence today it’s shocking that so many sentences would be below the guidelines established for these serious offenses,” Stephens said. “It’s no wonder we have a gun violence problem in Philadelphia and other places when criminals are receiving less than the sentencing guidelines recommend.”

In 2018, overall in Pennsylvania 67% of sentences for felons illegally possessing firearms fell below the standard range of our sentencing guidelines.

In Allegheny County, 95% of the sentences were well below the standard range and in Philadelphia, 86% of the sentences fell below the standard range.

The sentences for violent offenses committed with guns was also low with 38% below the standard range of the guidelines. For drug dealers convicted of illegally possessing guns, 36% of the sentences were below the standard range of sentences.

For several years Stephens has proposed legislation to reinstate a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for violent criminal who use guns, drug deals who use guns and felons who illegally possess guns. The bills generally receive broad bipartisan support in the House.

“This data makes it clear we must reform our sentencing practices for violent criminals who use guns and felons who illegally possess guns if we are serious about addressing gun violence in Pennsylvania,” Stephens added.

Attached here, here, and here are charts breaking down sentencing by county.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster