Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

10/03/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/03/2023 14:47

Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Highlights Youth Justice Advisory Boards in Honor of Juvenile Justice Week

Harrisburg, PA - In recognition of Juvenile Justice Week in Pennsylvania, the Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and Juvenile Court Judges' Commission (JCJC) are highlighting PCCD's Youth Justice Advisory Board Council (YJAB-C) initiative and its work to empower young people to be catalysts for juvenile justice reform and positive change in their communities.

"The people who are closest to the pain should be closest to the power, and those who are closest to the problem are closest to the solution," said Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, who serves as PCCD chair. "It's important to center the voices of young people who have experience with the juvenile justice system, so we can address the root causes of this issue."

Last year, PCCD and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee (JJDPC) approved approximately $350,000 in state Violence and Delinquency Prevention Program funds to support organizations launching YJAB-Cs in eight counties. This initiative reflects the JJDPC's commitment to ensuring youth voice is integral in efforts to create a more effective juvenile justice system.

"Pennsylvania has long been recognized as a national leader in juvenile justice policy and practice, and I am proud of the work we've supported to elevate the voices of justice-involved youth in helping to provide input and recommendations to improve the juvenile justice system," said PCCD Executive Director Mike Pennington. "It's encouraging to see that latest data from JCJC shows that fewer Pennsylvania youth are entering the juvenile justice system and for less serious crimes, and that the number of referrals to the juvenile justice system has decreased 38 percent over the last decade. We need to continue to move in this direction, and youth voices play a key role in this process."

The goal of this funding is to establish and coordinate county based YJAB-Cs to ensure that youth with lived experience and their caregivers have a voice in addressing needs, enhancing services and programs, reducing recidivism, and bolstering resources for youth. PCCD currently has eight YJAB pilot sites, which are listed below:

  • Amachi Pittsburgh - Allegheny County
  • Bench Mark Program - Lancaster County
  • Bucks County Youth Justice Advisory Board - Bucks County
  • Lehigh County Youth Justice Advisory Board Council - Lehigh County
  • Philadelphia District Attorney's Office Youth Advisory Council - Philadelphia County
  • Philadelphia Youth Survivor Advisory Board Council - Philadelphia County
  • Western PA Youth Justice Advisory Board Council - Westmoreland County
  • Youth Enrichment Services, Inc. - Allegheny County

The target population of YJAB-Cs include adolescents and young adults between the ages of 14-28 who have been impacted by the juvenile justice system. This can include youth that are either currently receiving services or have previously received services through their local juvenile probation office, were diverted out of system involvement, transitioning/aging out of the juvenile justice system, currently in out-of-home placements, or impacted caregivers of youth who fit the criteria above.

"We are excited about the YJAB-C initiative and elevating the voices of justice involved youth. Their experiences and personal stories will undoubtedly have a significant impact on our system," said JCJC Executive Director Robert Tomassini. I believe this is another example of how Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system is ever-changing and committed to implementing new programs and ideas to advance our balanced and restorative justice mission and improving outcomes for youth."

In addition to investments in youth-centered initiatives, Pennsylvania has also supported juvenile justice practitioners through training and professional development. The JCJC is hosting the 2023 James E. Anderson Pennsylvania Conference on Juvenile Justice November 1-3, 2023. This annual conference is attended by juvenile justice professionals from across Pennsylvania and nationally, and workshops will highlight practices, programs, and initiatives that exemplify best-practices related to the various components of Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system. The conference also hosts youth and adult awards programs to shine light on individuals across Pennsylvania who mare making a difference in their community.

To learn more about JCJC's annual conference and to register to attend, visit the conference registration website.

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