Bipartisan, Inter-branch Juvenile Justice Task Force Releases Final Report to Improve Outcomes for Youth, Families, and Communities

What:  Press conference announcing the release of the Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force’s final report, including policy recommendations to strengthen the state’s juvenile justice system.

When: Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Where: Media Center, State Capitol, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Who:   Task Force co-chairs Sen. Lisa Baker, Sen. Jay Costa, Rep. Mike Zabel and Rep. Tarah Toohil; General Assembly leaders; Task Force members

Why: Established in December 2019 by Gov. Tom Wolf, Supreme Court Justice Thomas Saylor, and General Assembly leaders from both parties, the Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force spent 16 months assessing Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system and developing 35 data-driven recommendations to form the foundation of budgetary, statutory, and administrative changes during the 2021-22 legislative session. Co-chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker, Sen. Jay Costa, Rep. Mike Zabel, and Rep. Tarah Toohil, the task force found most youth in the juvenile justice system have little or no prior history of delinquency, have not committed a felony or a person offense, and do not score as high risk to reoffend. Approximately 60 percent of adjudicated young people sent to residential placement are removed from home for a misdemeanor offense, just 39 percent had committed a person offense, and 73 percent are sent to placement on their first adjudicated offense. Out-of-home placement consumes the vast majority of taxpayer spending—costing up to $192,720 per youth per year. Outcomes for youth show large disparities in how the system responds to similar behavior by race, gender, and where a young person lives. The report outlines policy recommendations based in data and research about what works best to improve public safety outcomes. If enacted together, these policies are projected to reduce the out-of-home placement population by 39 percent by 2026 compared to projections for the population absent policy changes, freeing up over $81 million in averted state costs over five years for reinvestment

Interview Opportunities (all on-the-record):

  • Lisa Baker (Co-Chair)
  • Jay Costa (Co-Chair)
  • Mike Zabel (Co-Chair)
  • Tarah Toohil (Co-Chair)
  • Judge Kim Berkeley Clark, President Judge, Allegheny County
  • Kevin Bethel, head of school safety for the Philadelphia School District
  • Anthony Williams
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