After five years of tireless advocacy by REFORM Alliance, Pennsylvania Safety Coalition, and leaders from across the Commonwealth, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 838 and Governor Josh Shapiro signed the bill into law.


Narrows the definition of what behavior qualifies as a technical violation of probation, creates a presumption against incarceration for most technical violations, limits when incarceration can be ordered for violations as well as the duration of the incarceration. 

Ensures courts individualize conditions of probation aligned to people’s unique risks and needs, moving Pennsylvania away from one-size-fits-none standard probation conditions to a more individualized approach while requiring that only the least restrictive conditions necessary for rehabilitation and public safety are imposed.

Establishes a statewide standard early termination process, with presumption of termination for those who meet the criteria at the 2-year mark for misdemeanors and the 4-year mark for felonies, or the halfway point of the probation sentence, whichever is sooner. This process does not replace early termination processes that exist at the county level; rather, it creates a baseline process to ensure all Pennsylvanians have an opportunity to earn early termination.

Provides incentives for behavior proven to reduce recidivism and benefit the community, encouraging educational attainment and vocational certification by expediting the early termination process by 6-12 months for completing qualifying activities.

Codifies protections against punishment for inability to pay court fines and fees ensuring that people are not incarcerated nor have their probation revoked or extended if they are unable to pay, unless nonpayment is willful. 

Individuals on probation in Pennsylvania are advised to consult with an attorney to understand how these changes may impact their individual circumstance. Additional information (NOT legal advice) is available at




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