Jul. 07, 2020

HARRISBURG – Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar (R-Somerset/Bedford) today announced that both chambers of the General Assembly have approved his House Bill 256 which would lower the threshold that must be met to charge an inmate with a felony for committing assault on a corrections facility employee.

This bill is part of a package of bills, authored by Metzgar, which would address seven key areas to improve safety for Department of Corrections staff and the public, as well as toughen penalties on prisoners who commit violent offenses against facility employees. Metzgar wrote the legislation in response to the murder of Sgt. Mark Baserman, an employee at State Correctional Institute-Somerset, who was fatally beaten by an inmate on Feb. 15, 2018.

“The current language in the Crimes Code does not sufficiently address the intent of a prisoner who would commit these violent offenses against detention and correctional facility employees. Whether the assault results in ‘serious bodily injury’ or minor cuts and bruises, we have to consider that the intent to harm is present in both cases,” said Metzgar. “If a prisoner commits these violent offenses while incarcerated, they are showing that they are still a danger to society and have not been rehabilitated. The resulting sentencing needs to reflect that observation.”

The bill was amended in the Senate to provide that any law enforcement officer or correctional facility employee would commit a third-degree felony if they engage in any sexual acts with an inmate or detainee.

With approval in both chambers, the bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

Representative Carl Walker Metzgar
69th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives