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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: April 30, 2014 11:15 AM
From: Representative Kevin J. Schreiber
To: All House members
Subject: Terroristic Threats Involving Educational Facilities
We have all been shocked and alarmed by recent acts of violence targeting educational institutions in Pennsylvania and around the nation. Many times, it is unclear what if anything could have been done to prevent these tragic events. But while a recent incident in my district which clearly could have resulted in great tragedy was very narrowly averted, it could have been prevented altogether. I ask my colleagues to join me in sponsoring legislation which would address current deficiencies in the way violent threats against schools are handled in our judicial system.

In the very near future, I plan to introduce legislation which would amend Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to increase penalties associated with terroristic threats which place fear upon anyone who is employed, educated, or otherwise located in an educational facility.

My proposal stems from an incident in my district in which a student’s father terrorized school administrators, damaged school property, and threatened to kill all 83 children inside. The alleged perpetrator was arrested on the scene and arraigned that very afternoon by a magistrate judge. But after posting $1,500 bail, within 90 minutes he returned to the school and again threatened, terrorized, and caused additional damage.

Currently, anyone who threatens occupants of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation will be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the individual causes a diversion, he or she will be charged with a felony of the third degree. Furthermore, such matters are handled by district magistrates’ offices. These penalties are simply inadequate when concerning threats against vulnerable children in their school.

My proposal would increase these penalties if the terroristic threat is made towards an educational facility. Specifically, a first offense would constitute a felony of the third degree, and second or subsequent offenses would constitute a felony of the second degree. If the individual causes the occupants of the educational facility to be diverted from their normal or customary operations, he or she would be charged with a felony of the second degree. Second and subsequent offenses would result in a felony of the first degree. In addition, such matters would only be handled by the Court of Common Pleas.

Furthermore, the jail, prison, or detention facility holding the individual would be required to immediately notify the local law enforcement agency that made the arrest if the individual posts bail. The local law enforcement agency would then be required to immediately contact the educational facility to inform the administration of the fact that the individual has posted bail. This victims' notification process is similar to that required already for similar harassment or other violent offenses.

As legislators, I believe it is important to hold those who impose terroristic threats upon anyone employed, educated, or located in an educational facility to the fullest extent of the law. Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB2351