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Friday, May 23, 2008

Pa. lawmakers: No parole for violent criminals

Standing next to pictures of the three men accused in the killing of Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, State Rep. John M. Perzel today issued this message: Violent offender - no parole.

"We've had enough of repeat violent criminals murdering and terrorizing our loved ones and our neighborhoods," said Perzel, announcing legislation aimed at making violent offenders serve their maximum sentences.

Liczbinski's murder, Perzel said, was "the last straw."

He was joined by Reps. John Taylor and George T. Kenney Jr. All are Philadelphia Republicans.

Taylor noted that the men accused in Liczbinski's shooting death - Eric Floyd, Levon Warner and Howard Cain - all had long criminal records and were on parole. Cain was killed by police minutes after Liczbinski was shot. Floyd and Warner are charged with murder.

"In the event that the Board of Probation and Parole did what the system provided," Taylor said in reference to their cases, "the very system of parole no longer works, and we have to make drastic changes to the system."

In an interview, Malik Aziz, executive director of the Mayor's Office for the Reentry of Ex-Offenders, said that a law eliminating parole was not the solution.

"It's legislation that's about punishment, and not rehabilitation or even prevention," Aziz, himself an ex-offender, said. "That's not going to deter crime."

The proposed legislation would eliminate parole and early-release programs for any offender convicted of rape, robbery, murder, aggravated assault, or any crime with a gun.

It also would require that mandatory sentences for gun offenses be served consecutively and not concurrently with other sentences.

And parole for other inmates would have to be granted by a majority of the nine-member parole board. Currently, parole can be granted by a two-member panel. [Mark Godsey]

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