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New Legislation Targets Crime Prevention Through Youth Education

Pennsylvania Sen. John Wozniak (D-Cambria) introduced new anti-crime legislation that aims to put the consequence of crime at the core of youth education.

“We are ... trying to explain to them that these are the punishments for using an illegal hand gun, the use of drugs at varying levels, and the punishments for shoplifting, the punishment for any myriad of crimes so that these young people realize it’s all not fun and games out there," Wozniak  said Monday. 

Under the bill, still awaiting committee referral, the Pennsylvania Department of Education would work with the Pennsylvania State Police to develop the necessary high school materials and conduct an annual instructional session.

“Through the D.A.R.E. program or some other situation where we can reach out to these young people and make them understand that (if) you do these crimes, you are going to go to jail,” he said. 

According to the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges’ System, 28,951 youths between the ages of 10 and 17 were found delinquent (guilty) of a myriad of crimes statewide in 2013, including 3,244 in Allegheny County alone.

There is a misconception that guns and drugs are only an urban problem, Wozniak said. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, for which Wozniak serves as the vice chair, has been holding hearings on heroin and opioid addiction. The group issued a report in 2014 asserting preventative measures should begin earlier.

“A lot of information isn’t disseminated appropriately through our school system," he said. “Hopefully knowledge is a powerful ingredient to preventing people from committing crimes.”

Wozniak said the classroom material will cover the top 10 most commonly committed crimes between the ages of 18 and 24.

“It goes everywhere from armed robbery to stealing a car and these are the punishments that you will receive," he said. "I think being enlightened might just back you off from some of these dumb decisions that people tend to make.”