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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20170&cosponId=24306
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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: July 11, 2017 12:16 PM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb
To: All House members
Subject: First Chance Trust Fund
 
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation establishing a public charitable trust to help reverse the direction of prison-bound youth in Pennsylvania. This is a companion bill to a bipartisan proposal by Sens. Vincent Hughes, Patrick Browne, Jay Costa and Richard Alloway that was developed in collaboration with Gov. Tom Wolf and the Department of Corrections.

At‐risk youth continue to enter the justice system at alarming rates. Additionally, there are more than 81,000 Pennsylvania children with a parent in a prison. That absence, which some psychologists have compared to the death of a parent, through the formative years can have many deleterious effects on a child. Dealing with the emotional, social and economic consequences of that loss can trigger behavioral problems, lead to trouble in school and the possibility of dropping out and continuing the cycle of crime.

The Department of Corrections (DoC) currently has a number of initiatives in place to help foster family bonds, but more can, and should, be done to help at-risk youth. To that end, our legislation proposes the creation of the First Chance Trust Fund. The trust fund will be administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and would not require the use of taxpayer dollars. Instead, the trust will be funded by private, tax‐deductible donations and a 1% surcharge on all vendors that have a contract with the DoC exceeding $5 million. Other state agencies will also have the option to include such a provision in their contracts.

Initially, the trust fund is anticipated to generate $500,000 to $1 million annually, which will be used to create scholarships and provide grants to evidence-based programs that benefit at-risk youth. Grant and scholarship opportunities from the fund will be targeted to regions that have statistically higher high school dropout rates and risks of incarceration.

The fund, which would be the first of its kind in the country, will enable at-risk youth to get the programs they need to complete school and become healthy and productive members of society. Studies have consistently shown that investing in educational opportunities can significantly reduce the potential for future incarceration. It is imperative that we do more to make these investments, especially within our most disadvantaged communities. Doing so is not just a great investment financially, but our responsibility and the true answer to improving the criminal justice system.

Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation.



Introduced as HB1674