Pennsylvania state lawmakers eyeing prison reforms following escape of Danelo Cavalcante

Christie Ileto Image
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Escaped murderer taken into custody after 2 weeks on the run
Escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante taken into custody after 2 weeks on the run

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- We have reported on at least five prison escapes since May; four in our area, including the recent escape and capture of Danelo Cavalcante.

Now, a group of Republican state lawmakers are pushing five separate bills dealing with funding for prison security, the recruitment and retention of guards, and penalties for escaped inmates.

Rep. Craig Williams represents part of Chester County in the 160th District, where a portion of the manhunt for Cavalcante took place. He says they were already working to address some of the issues at state prisons, and enlarged their scope when Calvacante broke out

"In the state system, you're eligible for parole at about 1/3 of the way through the state sentence, and this would remove that eligibility for parole," he said.

Timeline: The manhunt and capture of escaped Pa. prisoner

Williams, a longtime federal prosecutor with the DOJ, says there are also other bills aimed at improving community notifications, when an escape is happening, and as well as post escape audits and reports.

He added an alert system, similar to an Amber Alert, would be best when something like this happens.

"I think (the notification) can be improved. I think everyone agrees the state police have done everything they can possibly do," said Williams. "But for us information was paramount. I was learning as much as you were from the news than I was from the organization. I had one school district who found out after the fact."

Williams says he's hoping these bills will get bipartisan support and they can refer them to committee in the coming months.