HARRISBURG, Pa. — Rep. Sheryl Delozier, a Republican from a predominantly white conservative district, and Rep. Jordan Harris, a Democrat from a predominantly black Philadelphia district have been working together on criminal-justice reform.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted overwhelming 193-4 to pass a bill they both sponsored, helping formerly convicted get professional licenses. Individuals that took job training in prison for professions like cosmetology, nursing, funeral services or accounting can now get credentials once they’re released, on a restricted basis.
Both Delozier and Harris say they were attracted to the issue because of mass incarceration’s devastating impact on their very different communities. “Criminal-justice reform is not a Republican or a Democrat issue.”
“It’s a common-sense issue. It’s a people’s issue, and it’s also a fiscal issue. We’re dealing with only so many dollars within our state budget, and I would rather have somebody who has served their time and done what has been asked of them to be able to come out and know they’re going to be part of our communities again,” she said.
“I don’t want them back in prison at $40,000 a year to house them for something that we can mitigate,” she said. “Let them find a job. Let them get out in our communities, be part of their families again, earn wages, pay taxes and be part of society.”
National statistics show that 68 percent of people that come out of prison will be arrested again in the first three years, said Delozier. “One of the leading reasons for that is not having employment.”
Harris and Delozier are proof that, on a very local level, politicians from different parties can come together to fix a common problem through careful discussion and deliberation. Kudos to Both…