Criminal Justice & Safety
A former deputy sheriff, Senator Costa actively promotes public safety and security. He sought maximum penalties for burglary and burglary-related offenses and worked to halt ordinances that penalize residents who call for emergency assistance – particularly in domestic violence situations. Senator Costa has also supported upgrades to child protection laws and the reporting of child abuse. He authored a law that would provide for a life-sentence to those who commit rape or involuntary deviate sexual intercourse when serious bodily injury occurs to victims thirteen years or younger.
Legislation I’m Working On
SB 458 − Initiatives to Improve Policing and Community Relations
In the wake of tragic officer-involved shootings across the commonwealth, and the nation, I am developing and will be introducing legislation to address these situations. I believe it is important that the General Assembly develop and enact legislation that provides improved training for police to know when to use force, particularly deadly force.
SB 650 − Increasing Access to School Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers and Nurses
I am proposing legislation that will provide the necessary authority and resources to enable school districts to help students. My legislation will help schools evaluate their needs based on school population and provide a necessary complement of school counselors to identify students who may be in need of mental health services and assist students in receiving the assistance they need.
The second piece of legislation would establish a loan forgiveness program for professionals—social workers, psychologists and school counselors. The intent is to help to provide additional counselors for schools to assist students with their emotional and mental health needs.
Senate Bill 338 − Divestiture and Investment Prohibition from Assault Weapon Manufacturers
SB 1170 will require divestiture and prohibit future investments by the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS’s), the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS’s), the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System (PMRS), and the State Treasurer in any company that manufactures assault weapons, such as the AR-15, large capacity ammunition feeding devices, or assault weapon accessories, such as bump stocks for civilian use. These weapons have become a plague, and the companies that produce them must be sent a message that profiting from the production of military style weapons for civilian use must be stopped.
Safety is a huge concern for Senator Costa and the caucus, particularly in light of many recent acts of gun violence. Senator Costa and the caucus have introduced bills to:
- Divest state funds from the manufacturers of assault weapons
- Ban new purchases of assault-style weapons
- Require gun owners to carry additional insurance
- Expand the list of violent crimes that prohibit someone from owning a firearm
For those who are leaving the criminal justice system, re-entering a community can be difficult, and it’s one of the factors that leads to higher rates of recidivism. The PA Senate Democratic Caucus is working to:
- Create programs to ease the re-entry process can be enormously helpful in getting a person back on their feet
- Reform the expungement process, so that minor offenses can be wiped from a person’s record and they don’t spend the rest of their lives paying for a single mistake.
- “Ban the Box,” a provision that prohibits employers from asking job applicants if they’ve ever been convicted of a crime in the first round of their screening process. Too often, checking “Yes” in that box will automatically disqualify an applicant.
- Eliminate incarceration for someone who fails to pay their cash bail. Paying a cash bail is simply not possible for some people, and locking them up for failing to pay that is a policy that punishes them again for not having means.
HARRISBURG, PA − June 24, 2020 − The Pennsylvania Senate today unanimously passed two major pieces of police reform legislation, both sponsored by members of the Senate Democratic Caucus: Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. (D-Allegheny) and Senator Sharif Street...
HARRISBURG – June 10, 2020 – Today, members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus announced plans for a comprehensive package of legislation to reform policing in Pennsylvania. Two years ago, members of the caucus introduced police and community relations...
Harrisburg, Pa. − June 24, 2019 − Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus today jointly sent a letter to Governor Tom Wolf requesting a disaster declaration for gun violence in the Commonwealth. “We believe it is necessary to raise the public’s awareness...
Harrisburg, PA − September 25, 2018 − Following the death of Antwon Rose, Jr. earlier this year, and other incidents around the state and nation, state legislators began work on legislation regarding police management and community relations. Today, Senators...
Pittsburgh, PA − September 13, 2018 − Following the death of Antwon Rose, Jr. earlier this year, and other incidents around the state and nation, state legislators from Western Pennsylvania began work on legislation regarding police management and community...
Wilkinsburg, Pa. − July 17, 2018 − Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. today attended a joint hearing of the Pennsylvania House and Senate Policy Committees regarding police and community relations. “Improving relations between police departments and the...
PITTSBURGH, PA − June 29, 2018 −In the wake of tragic officer-involved shootings across the commonwealth, and the nation, I am developing and will be introducing legislation to address these situations. I believe it is important that the General Assembly develop...
Harrisburg – March 21, 2018 – State Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) released the following statement on the domestic violence package that passed today in the senate: Earlier today, the Senate moved to prevent domestic violence and protect its victims. Among these...