ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
SB 975 (PN 1228) would amend 18 § 2706 (Terroristic threats) to make threats to a school or educational facility a third-degree felony offense. Under current statute, schools would be covered under the offense definition, which is graded as a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. If the threat "causes the occupants of the building, place of assembly or facility of public transportation to be diverted from their normal or customary operations," then the offense is graded as a third-degree felony.
SB 975 would amend § 2706 to make any threat against a school or educational facility a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison and $15,000 in fines. But this is unnecessary and likely redundant, since most threats to schools would presumably be made at a time when people would be "diverted from their normal operations" and would therefore be currently chargeable as third-degree felony offenses.
Additionally, SB 975 would expand what can costs can be assessed for the purposes of restitution, which would be not only excessive, but would, under SB 975, also be imposed on juveniles. Restitution costs under the bill include:
- Costs of supplies, equipment or materials used to respond to the threat.
- Costs of prepared and unprepared food that went unused as a result of an evacuation or diversion due to the threat.
- Salary or other wages, including overtime pay, of any employee who responded to the threat.
- Salary or other wages, including overtime pay, of any teacher, administrator, aide or other employee who was paid despite the diversion.
Check the bill's status here.