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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 16, 2021 02:46 PM
From: Representative Dan L. Miller and Rep. Jordan A. Harris
To: All House members
Subject: Improving our Juvenile Act
According to our bipartisan Juvenile Justice Task Force, Pennsylvania involves police and arrests our kids at rates that dwarf our neighboring states- arresting them 9x more than West Virginia, 7x more than OH, and almost 15x more than NY. Children of color fare even worse. Black girls are 3x more likely to be involved with police than white girls. Black boys are arrested more, removed from home more, are tried as adults more, and stay in placement longer than any other demographic (while representing a fraction of our state youth population). 
To begin the systemic change needed to improve futures in Pennsylvania for all of our children, the Task Force recommended nearly three dozen changes involving several areas of law. This bill incorporates recommendations involving the Juvenile Act, and builds upon them by including other measures that will help ensure that our juvenile justice system is fair, equitable, and responsive to the rehabilitative needs of our kids. 
Among the improvements are:
  • Ending direct file to adult court;
  • Stopping failure to comply referrals;
  • Capping juvenile probation for misdemeanors at 12 months and 18 months for felonies;
  • Requiring consultation with an attorney before a minor waives a right;
  • Requiring age and developmental appropriate Miranda rights;
  • Prohibiting the use of solitary confinement of children;
  • Eliminating the imposition of almost all court fees and fines;
  • Instituting manifest determination hearings for probation reviews for children with disabilities;
  • Ending forced admissions for access to first time offender programs;
  • Increasing the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 13 and prohibiting criminal prosecution of kids under 10; and
  • Expanding the use of diversionary informal adjustments for low level offenses; 
The bipartisan Task Force did a great job of laying out the challenge before us. We hope to see bold action by the legislature to adopt and expand upon those recommendations. Diluting or ignoring them only limits futures. 
Please join us in sponsoring this critically important legislation.