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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 18, 2017 03:44 PM
From: Representative Joanna E. McClinton
To: All House members
Subject: Juvenile Pre-Trial Detention
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation that will prohibit juveniles from being detained pre-trial in adult facilities unless they are facing homicide charges.

The effects of pre-trial detention and the abuses that accompany it are particularly harmful to juveniles’ physical, mental, social and developmental health. Pre-trial detention is uniquely devastating to children, often leading to stunted or deviant adulthood, higher rates of recidivism, and imposes a heavy burden on family members and communities who are most invested in their recovery and success.

Not only are juveniles that are held in adult facilities 36% more likely to commit suicide, they comprise 21% of the victims of inmate perpetrated sexual assault while making up only 1% of the total population of adult facilities. Juveniles experiencing behavioral health problems simply get worse in detention, not better, as they do not receive effective treatment. The transition into incarceration itself is believed to be responsible for some of the observed increase mental illnesses in detention.

Lastly, the costs of pre-trial detention of juveniles in adult facilities are substantial. Pre-trial detention costs an average of $400 per night and nearly $150,000 a year per youth in adult facilities. In New York City, for example, it costs 15 times more to detain a juvenile in an adult facility as compared to sending a youth to a detention alternative. As Pennsylvania faces its own budgetary woes, it is imperative that we spend our state’s limited resources responsibly instead of funding ineffective and expensive incarceration programs.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1697