Prison Radio
Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall

“The Cost Benefit of Supporting Pennsylvania Senate Bill 942.”

On November the 11th, 2019, Pennsylvania State Senator Sharif Street introduced Senate Bill 942 to help us finally get parole eligibility for our loved ones serving death by incarceration or life without parole sentences in Pennsylvania—a struggle going on for about 50 years in this state. From the 1970s until today, we can guesstimate that thousands—if not more—of lifer men and women in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections have died slow, agonizing, lonely deaths in prison from serving death by incarceration sentences. This must end. People deserve second chances.

Placing emotions aside and looking at Senate Bill 942 from a practical standpoint, SB 942 is a bill we can get fully behind to support its passage and with good reason, here is why: for the first time in Pennsylvania history, there will be parole eligibility for incarcerated men and women condemned to death through life without parole sentencing schemes. A couple of thousand lifer prisoners can immediately get free, and hundreds more will be set free possibly every year thereafter. Persons serving death by incarceration sentences under two and three strikes laws will be parole eligible in 20 years. A life without parole reinvestment fund will be established and will transfer 50% of the funds to offender reentry programs. Senate bill 942 would take effect in 60 days after passage.

The time is right for passage of a parole eligibility bill to be- finally become enacted as law in Pennsylvania. And this is probably a once in a lifetime deal to get done. So we should seize the time. Yes, Senate Bill 942 has its drawbacks of providing a provision excluding those convicted of killing a cop from parole eligibility and not providing a lesser parole eligibility term than 35 and 25 years for people who did not kill or intend to kill anyone, veterans, geriatrics, and the terminally ill. The problems of Senate Bill 942 is what caused me to rebel against it in the past.

But weighing the cost benefit of the question at hand to support or not to support, I think it’s best to support Senate Bill 942. To get what we can now and struggle to pass different bills to get other parts later. Because at the end of the day, something is better than nothing at all. And we can set free a lot of condemned people who would otherwise die in prison. Those are issues we’re going to have to deal with later. But before we can get to those issues let’s support Senate bill 942 now. And set those who are deserving free.

From the belly of the beast at Prison Radio, I am Shakaboona.

(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.