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06/20/2024 04:17 PM
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: August 30, 2023 09:26 AM
From: Representative Tarik Khan and Rep. Jason Dawkins, Rep. Rick Krajewski, Rep. Liz Hanbidge, Rep. Benjamin V. Sanchez, Rep. Stephen Kinsey, Rep. Carol Kazeem
To: All House members
Subject: Youth Sentencing and the Developing Brain
Research shows that the brain continues to develop and grow well into a person’s 20s, and adolescence ends after age 24. Neuroscience shows that developing brains function at a different level than fully developed adult brains, and the part of the brain that is responsible for planning, considering consequences, and making decisions is not matured until a person has completed late adolescence. Adolescents are less capable of making thoughtful decisions, are more likely to make impulsive decisions and be influenced by peer pressure than when they are older. Our justice system must consider the lack of youth social-emotional and cognitive control during sentencing so that adolescents can face just sentences that are appropriate for their age and development.
Our legislation would address a one-size-fits-all approach to sentencing by simply requiring courts to consider an adolescent’s mental capacity, maturity, and ongoing brain development at the time of a crime committed at age 24 and below.  This basic yet effective change to our current culpability law will help our courts understand and sentence Pennsylvania youth more appropriately.
As elected officials, we must ensure our youth, including juveniles and adolescents, are treated fairly.  Please join us in co-sponsoring this commonsense legislation to protect further and rehabilitate justice-involved youth.

Introduced as HB1689