WARREN-State Senator Joe Scarnati of the 25th District expressed dismay that Jack Wisor and officials at the Just for Jesus homeless shelter outside of Brockway have chosen to intentionally violate a measure which was just recently passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Ed Rendell. 

According to Scarnati, Act 95 of 2010 states that a group-based home like Just for Jesus, which agrees to provide housing to a convicted murderer, must notify the county and municipal governments in which the home is located that the individual is staying at the home, within 48 hours of his arrival.  Upon notification, the county or municipal government may choose to hold a public hearing concerning the group-based home provider, its site and operation.

“The law is very clear and unmistakable, Scarnati said.  “Without question, it was ignored by Mr. Wisor and his Just for Jesus group, as they continue to be a safety concern for many citizens in the Jefferson County area.”

Convicted murderer Ernie Simmons was recently released by Cambria County Judge Timothy P. Creany, after violating multiple terms of his probation, and ordered to return to the Just for Jesus homeless shelter.  The Pennsylvania Board of Probation & Parole informed Scarnati’s office that Just for Jesus staff had picked up Mr. Simmons on Monday, November 22nd  in order to return him to the shelter.  However, according to officials in the Jefferson County Commissioners and Snyder Township Supervisors offices, as of Monday, November 29, neither had been notified of Mr. Simmons’ arrival at Just for Jesus, as required by law.

“What is most troubling about this situation is that Mr. Wisor was well aware of the recently passed law and simply chose to not abide by it, Scarnati stated.  “In fact, shortly after the passage of the bill, Mr. Wisor told WTAJ-TV the following quote,  ‘I’m glad that Senator Scarnati has put this bill in place, and I think it’s going to work great for communities and ministries such as Just for Jesus.'”

Scarnati added that he would urge the county and township officials to hold a public hearing in accordance with the new statute.

WARREN-State Senator Joe Scarnati of the 25th Senatorial District has been nominated by his Republican colleagues to once again be President Pro Tempore in the Pennsylvania State Senate. 

“I am honored and humbled by the trust that my colleagues have shown in giving me the opportunity to continue to lead this great institution,” Scarnati stated.  “Without question, there is much work to be done and by working together with members on both sides of the aisle, I am confident we will be successful in our intended endeavors.”

It was clearly evident that voters across the Commonwealth found merit in the platform of lower taxes, less regulation that the Senate Republicans have taken the lead in over the past several years.  With that said, Republicans in the Senate were again successful in maintaining control of this body with a 30-20 margin.

“Certainly, the General Assembly must persist in moving forward in creating an environment where businesses are doing business and workers are working,” Scarnati said.  “In addition, we must also walk down the path of making government more open, more transparent.  While much has been accomplished in these areas, many challenges remain.”

“Working with the basic premise of no tax increases, no new taxes, and no excessive spending, Pennsylvania, quite frankly can take the next steps toward making our state a better place to live, work, and raise a family,” Scarnati added.  “I look forward to working with members of the caucuses and Administration to further this agenda.  More specifically, I would like to congratulate Sam Smith as the next Speaker of the House.  I have long considered Sam a friend and wish him nothing but the best.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati will continue his role in the Senate for the 2011-2012 session.  However, he will no longer carry duel positions with the election of Governor-elect Tom Corbett and Lieutenant Governor-elect Jim Cawley.

Contact: TIM NYQUIST: (814-726-7201)

WARREN – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati amended Senate Bill 1161 to require public hearings to be held in communities where convicted murderers are being released into group homes.  The Board of Probation and Parole will be responsible for holding the aforementioned public hearings.  Yesterday, the Senate passed this measure with a 45-4 final vote.  It now goes to the Governor for his signature.

“As I have stated, this amendment is simply a public safety measure in order to inform and alert the communities when a convicted murderer will be released to a group home in their area,” Scarnati stated.  “Citizens should also have the right to express themselves in a public forum on the circumstances surrounding the location of the individual.”

Scarnati mentioned that this amendment was prompted by the lack of public information given to the residents in the Jefferson County area when a convicted murderer was to be placed in a local group home.

“Without question, government has the responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our residents,” Scarnati added.  “Quite frankly, this is a common sense amendment that received the support of nearly every member of the Senate.”

The process by which the public hearing takes place requires that the group-based home provider shall explain their operations and allow the public to comment on this site and their actual procedures.  In addition, notice of the public hearing shall be put in newspapers on two different dates prior to the hearing.

“Again, it goes without saying that the public should be notified and given the ability to gain answers as to why a convicted murderer is being located in their neighborhoods,” Scarnati concluded.  “When these individuals are being placed in group homes near our families, friends and children, it is vital that all the facts are being relayed to the concerned members of that respective community.”

To contact Senator Joe Scarnati:

Warren Office
315 Second Avenue
Suite 203
Warren, PA 16365
Ph: 814-726-7201
FAX: 814-726-7012
Toll Free: 877-787-7084

WARREN – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati voted in support of legislation that would allow law abiding citizens to defend themselves without retreat and with potential lethal force providing their life is in danger.  The bill passed the Senate today with a 45-4 final vote.

“This is a common-sense bill that further allows individuals the right to protect themselves and their loved ones if they feel lethally threatened,” Scarnati stated.  “The basic right to protect ourselves and loved ones, whether they are home, in a vehicle, or in a public place is one of the fundamental premises of our democracy.” 

According to Scarnati, under current law citizens have the right to defend themselves in their homes.  However, they must show retreat outside their home when facing the danger of lethal force.  This expansion of the ‘Castle Doctrine’ provides that individuals, in any place they have a legal right to be, can defend themselves, or others, when in significant danger. 

“I am pleased that a majority of the members of the Senate recognized the shortcoming in the original law and acted responsibly in protecting law abiding citizens and their second amendment rights,” Scarnati added.  “Clearly, it is vital for the General Assembly to take action on pieces of legislation that provides for the health, safety, and well-being of our citizens.” 

“It is my sincere hope that the House of Representatives recognizes the importance of this change and votes accordingly,” Scarnati concluded. 

The amended version of House Bill 1926 must be agreed to by a majority of the House of Representatives before going to the desk of the Governor for his signature.

To contact Senator Joe Scarnati:

Warren Office
315 Second Avenue
Suite 203
Warren, PA 16365
Ph: 814-726-7201
FAX: 814-726-7012
Toll Free: 877-787-7084