Press Release

House Passes Scott Measure to Provide Loan Repayment Assistance

Scott Leads House Lawmakers with Legislation to Ensure Fair and Efficient Justice System

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Washington, May 15, 2007 | Chandra Harris (770-210-5073) | comments
House Passes Scott Measure to Provide Loan Repayment Assistance for Prosecutors and Public Defenders
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Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Act of 2007 (H.R. 916), which is authored by Congressman Scott, by a 341-73 vote.

“A serious situation is emerging impacting public safety, justice, fairness and the integrity of the criminal justice system, as a severe shortage of qualified prosecutors and public defenders looms large over our entire nation,” Congressman Scott said. “In Georgia and throughout the country, the recruitment and retention of public prosecutors and defenders has been a daunting task in recent years. This is largely because crushing student debt burdens have deterred many talented law graduates from pursuing public service careers.”

The bipartisan John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Act of 2007 would benefit our criminal justice system and our communities by creating a student loan repayment program for law school graduates who commit to serve for at least three years as criminal prosecutors or public defenders. The bill was introduced on the Senate side by Senator Richard Durbin, cosponsors include: Senators Arlen Specter, Patrick Leahy, Gordon Smith, John Kerry and Susan Collins.

“Our communities suffer when the criminal justice system lacks a sufficient supply of experienced prosecutors and defenders,” Scott added. “Criminal caseloads become unmanageable, cases can be delayed or mishandled, serious crimes may go unprosecuted, and innocent defendants may be sent to jail while guilty criminals go free. This bill will bolster the ranks of talented attorneys in the criminal justice system and help that system function more effectively.”

H.R. 916:

  • Establishes a program of student loan repayment for borrowers who agree to remain employed, for at least three years, as State or local criminal prosecutors or as State, local or Federal public defenders in criminal cases;
  • Allows eligible attorneys to receive student loan debt repayments of up to $10,000 per year, with a maximum aggregate over time of $60,000;
  • Covers student loans made, insured or guaranteed under the Higher Education Act of 1965, including consolidation loans;
  • Permits attorneys to enter into additional loan repayment agreements, after the required three-year period, for additional periods of service;
  • Requires attorneys to repay the government if they do not complete their required period of service; and
  • Authorizes $25 million per year through FY 2013 after which the program would sunset unless re-authorized.

This legislation is supported by the American Bar Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association of Prosecutor Coordinators, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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