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07/21/2024 02:56 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20230&cosponId=38484
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: December 9, 2022 10:06 AM
From: Representative Donna Bullock and Rep. Rick Krajewski
To: All House members
Subject: Keeping Families Together with Community-Based Sentencing Alternatives for Non-Violent Crimes
 
Children deserve to be in the loving care of a parent or caretaker. Unfortunately, over seven million children across the country have a parent/primary caretaker who has been incarcerated. Research shows that children do better socially and academically if they are allowed to maintain familial, social, and communal relationships, while children of incarcerated parents are more likely to drop out of school, struggle with their mental and emotional health, and eventually become incarcerated themselves.
 
To address this, we will be introducing legislation to direct courts to sentence primary caretakers and parents with children under the age of 18 to an individualized community based sentence in instances where the offense is considered low-level and non-violent. Currently, judges in Pennsylvania have the authority to choose a sentence of non-confinement and order the offender to complete a number of rehabilitation services if the offense is considered low-level and of a non-violent nature. Our legislation would require courts to determine if the offender is a primary caretaker of a child under the age of 18, and if so, hand down an individually assessed sentence without confinement that will leave the primary caretaker in the home.
 
Allowing parents/primary caretakers to remain in their homes and communities while serving their sentence would strengthen family bonds, as well as help offenders to remain a part of the workforce and maintain connections with their communities. There are more than 2,000 women incarcerated in state correctional facilities in Pennsylvania, with thousands more housed in county jails at any given time.  Over half of all women in U.S. prisons are mothers as are 80% of women in jails. Moreover, women who are incarcerated have an outsized impact on our communities and on future generations.
 
It is imperative that we provide opportunities for families to remain intact by offering alternative, individualized community-based sentencing. Many states are changing the way they choose to sentence primary caretakers, and we should also. Please join us in helping current and future generations to grow and succeed by supporting this legislation.



Introduced as HB94