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DA: Criminal Justice Improvements Will Make State Safer

Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone thanked Gov. Tom Corbett recently for signing several pieces of legislation into law—ones he said will help law enforcement efforts, especially those regarding drugs.

Washington County District Attorney Eugene A. Vittone thanked Gov. Tom Corbett recently for signing several bills into law that he said will help local law
enforcement catch up with technology and criminals.

“As district attorney of Washington County, keeping the law current and
reflective of modern day realities is essential to public safety. These new laws will help ensure fairness and balance in the criminal justice system by keeping up with technology, criminals and remaining ever vigilant in protecting the rights of victims," Vittone said.

He continued: "I am particularly thankful to see passage of a statute which provides for criminal responsibility for individuals who deal or provide a dangerous drug to someone who then dies from that drug. This statute will certainly be a valuable tool in law enforcement’s efforts to combat the growing problem of prescription drug abuse and heroin use in Washington County."

The new laws, which were passed during the final days of the legislative session, will provide appropriate sentences for juveniles convicted of murder, restoration of tough sentences against straw purchasers of illegal guns, updates to the wiretap law, a more rational teen sexting law, and HIV testing for those arrested for rape.

The bills were among the legislative priorities of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, which represents the state’s 67 elected district attorneys and more than 1,200 assistant district attorneys and other members of law enforcement.

“Gov. Tom Corbett's final approval of these bills radically improves Pennsylvania's criminal justice system with a more modern approach," Vittone said.

The newly signed laws include: updating the state's wiretap laws to reflect new
technologies being used by criminals, downgrading the offense of teenage
sexting from a felony to a misdemeanor or summary, restoring a five-year
minimum mandatory sentence for straw purchasers of illegal handguns and
providing tough yet appropriate sentences for those juveniles convicted of murder in response to the decision of the U.S Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama.

Other improvements passed into law during this legislative session include a ban on dangerous synthetic drugs, the closing of loopholes in Megan's Law (which registers sex offenders) and more.

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