Apr. 12, 2022
HARRISBURG—The House Judiciary Committee has passed legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) and Rep. Craig Williams (R-Delaware) to extend Act 58 of 2019
, a bipartisan legislative effort that provides the attorney general concurrent jurisdiction over gun crime in Philadelphia.
Act 58 was passed as a pilot program in 2019 and expired in 2021 without being used by the attorney general. House Bill 2275
extends the law through 2025.
“The murder rate in Philadelphia hit record levels in 2021, yet Attorney General Josh Shapiro refused to use this new tool to help us fight gun crime in Philadelphia,” White said. “We are extending the law to give Shapiro another chance to do what is right as gun crimes continue to rise.”
“The people of Philadelphia are suffering and know they are in danger,” Williams said. “This is corroborated by a poll reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer last week that showed 70 percent of Philadelphians see public safety as the most important issue in the city, that half do not feel safe in their neighborhoods and two-thirds have heard gun shots within the last year. As a former federal prosecutor, I know the value of aggressively prosecuting illegal gun possession in deterring gun violence. We sent Attorney General Shapiro to the plate in 2019 to help, and he didn’t take the bat off his shoulder. We are giving him another chance to help the team.”
It is already both a state and federal crime for a previously convicted felon to be in possession of a gun. In 2021, police made more than 3,000 arrests for illegal gun possession, the most ever recorded in Philadelphia. Yet, people accused of illegally carrying guns have seen their chances of getting convicted in court plunge from 63% in 2017 to 49% two years later.
Williams has secured $1.5 million in the state budget to hire additional gun prosecutors in Philadelphia and Delaware counties. Delaware County and Philadelphia have so far hired six new prosecutors with those funds with more hires expected.
“Under my plan, the new prosecutors would work as deputized federal prosecutors, exclusively prosecuting felon-in-possession crimes federally under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Justice through the federal Project Safe Neighborhoods program,” Williams said, himself a former Project Safe Neighborhoods prosecutor.
Project Safe Neighborhoods relies heavily on cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to protect the communities they serve.
Representative Martina White
Representative Craig Williams
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster