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Keystones for Reform: Promising Juvenile Justice Policies and Practices in Pennsylvania

NCJ Number
Neelum Aryna; Eric Lotke; Liz Ryan; Marc Schindler; Dana Shoenberg; Mark Soler
Date Published
October 2005
60 pages
This report describes a number of promising juvenile justice policies and practices in the State of Pennsylvania providing a solid base for further reform efforts.
Reform efforts in Pennsylvania are focusing on bringing about change in three areas: the coordination of mental health and juvenile justice systems, the system of aftercare services and supports, and disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system. Pennsylvania has initiated a number of policies and practices which show promise: (1) the Juvenile Court Judges Commission conducts research and training, develops and oversees compliance with standards and engages in legislative and policy analysis; (2) Act 148 and needs-based budgeting provides financial incentives for counties to keep young offenders at home, in their communities, and in least restrictive placements; (3) the Allegheny County Juvenile Court’s Community Intensive Supervision Program, a community focused alternative to incarceration; (4) use of evidence-based prevention and treatment practices, a variety of models that have been proven effective in extensive scientific research and are central treatment approaches; (5) use of the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument used for screening incarcerated youth to identify needs for mental health assessment and treatment; and (6) detention population control at the Philadelphia Youth Study Center. Each section of this report describes the origins and implementation of the policies and procedures, lessons learned from the efforts, challenges for the future, and resources through which others can obtain more information.