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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: March 22, 2023 10:52 AM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb and Rep. Emily Kinkead, Rep. Melissa L. Shusterman
To: All House members
Subject: Establishing Court-Structured Fines
A heavy burden for poorer offenders and nothing more than a slap on the wrist for wealthier ones, our current fine system is unequal, unfair, and unhelpful. However, there is a common-sense reform that could make financial burdens more proportionate to an offender’s income, increasing accountability, deterrence, and even revenue. More affordable than traditionally set fines, court-structured fines have shown that they are more effective and positive for the offender, court and community. 

For this reason, we will be introducing legislation to establish such a system in Pennsylvania by creating guidelines for the use of structured fines, also known as day fines. The proposal would direct the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to work with a committee of individuals with relevant backgrounds, such as judges, prosecutors, public defenders and other stakeholders to create these guidelines. 
Monetary fines should be determined based factors that center on impact and equity. Otherwise, set fines disproportionately punish those individuals with the least means and have far less efficacy for more affluent people. 

As addressing mass incarceration becomes an increasingly bipartisan issue, decriminalizing poverty is one of the most basic ways we can work toward decarceration and a more equitable way to hold those who transgress to account without forcing the poorest members of society down the rabbit hole that is our modern criminal legal system.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1352