RESOLUTION OF THE PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION URGING SENATORS ARLEN SPECTER AND RICK SANTORUM TO CO-SPONSOR S. 1091: PROSECUTORS AND DEFENDERS INCENTIVE ACT (A BILL TO PROVIDE FUNDING FOR STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS FOR PUBLIC ATTORNEYS)
WHEREAS, members of the law school class of 2000 graduated with an average educational debt burden of $77,300, with some graduates entering the workforce with more than $100,000 in educational debt, often requiring monthly loan payments well in excess of $1,000; and
WHEREAS, in 2002, the average public interest lawyer was paid only $34,000; and,
WHEREAS, the Senate Judiciary Committee has recognized, "The barrier is greatest for low-income students with the highest loans, consisting disproportionately of minorities." (Senate Report 107-315); and
WHEREAS, student loan debt is consistently cited as a primary reason attorneys decline or leave positions as prosecutors, public defenders and other civil legal services attorneys; and,
WHEREAS, "nowhere in public service is it more important to encourage recruitment of competent lawyers and the retention of experienced ones than in the disciplines of prosecution and public defense, where people's lives and liberty hang in the balance." (Senate Report 107-315); and
WHEREAS, large debt combined with low salaries creates high turnover in prosecutors' and public defenders' offices, leaving the justice system operating with a dearth of experienced attorneys, producing inefficiency in the justice system as cases are delayed because offices must constantly train new staff; and,
WHEREAS, the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs has concluded that loan forgiveness is "an important means of reducing staff turnover and avoiding related recruitment/training costs and disruptions to the office and case processing." (Improving Criminal Justice System through Expanded Strategies and Innovative Collaborations: Report of the National Symposium on Indigent Defense, NCJ 181344, February 1999); and,
WHEREAS, similar programs have been established for teachers, childcare providers, law enforcement and corrections officers, nurses, and medical technicians; and
WHEREAS, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, the American Bar Association, and the National District Attorneys Association have officially supported S. 1091: Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association hereby urges Senators Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum to co-sponsor S. 1091: Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges Senators Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum to encourage their fellow colleagues in the Senate to sponsor or co-sponsor S. 1091 or similar legislation.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Chancellor, or his designee, is authorized to take whatever steps are necessary to effectuate this resolution.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: FEBRUARY 26, 2004