Juvenile Law Center and Disability Rights Pennsylvania File Amicus Brief in Response to Conditions at Juvenile Justice Services Center
The advocacy organizations underlined egregious conditions children are facing
PHILADELPHIA, June 21, 2023 –Yesterday, Juvenile Law Center and Disability Rights Pennsylvania filed an amicus brief in the Philadelphia lawsuit against Pennsylvania State DHS in Commonwealth Court. The organizations filed on behalf of neither party, focusing the brief on the egregious conditions and harms youth in Philadelphia are facing in this facility.
“The severe overcrowding of the PJJSC requires immediate action by all parties and stakeholders,” said Marsha Levick, Chief Legal Officer, Juvenile Law Center. “At approximately 30% or more over-capacity, with dozens of children sleeping on mattresses on floors in windowless rooms and spaces, it is inhumane, and it is violative of Pennsylvania statutory and regulatory law. Continuing to do nothing to relieve an increasingly dangerous situation is not an option. Both Philadelphia and Pennsylvania must drastically reduce their over-reliance on placement and confinement.”
“Approximately 70% of youth in the PJJSC and the state Youth Development Centers have mental health and other disabilities that make them particularly vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and victimization,” said Rhonda Brownstein, Litigation Counsel, Disability Rights Pennsylvania. "The city and state must work together to develop therapeutic alternatives to incarceration to help these young people thrive.”
Both organizations highlight the state legislature’s failure to enact meaningful juvenile justice system reforms coming out of its own bipartisan task force as a driving factor in rising population in the JJSC.
“Overcrowding at the PJJSC underscores the need for the commonsense recommendations of the Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force,” said Malik Pickett, Staff Attorney, Juvenile Law Center. “Current legislation such as SB 752, and HB 1381 limit the youth that can be detained and will alleviate overcrowding. We urge the Legislature to take swift action and move these pieces of legislation, along with the rest of the Task Force recommendations.”
Attorneys from Juvenile Law Center and Disability Rights Pennsylvania will hold a virtual press conference today at 12:00 pm to discuss this filing and answer questions from the media.
WHO: Juvenile Law Center and Disability Rights Pennsylvania
WHAT: Juvenile Law Center and Disability Rights Pennsylvania to hold a virtual press conference on filing of amicus brief in response to conditions at Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center
WHEN: Wednesday, June 21st, 12:00-12:30 pm
Meeting ID: 815 3759 7532
Juvenile Law Center fights for rights, dignity, equity, and opportunity for youth. We work to reduce the harm of the child welfare and justice systems, limit their reach, and ultimately abolish them so all young people can thrive. For more information about Juvenile Law Center’s work, visit www.JLC.org.
Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) is the statewide protection and advocacy agency for Pennsylvanians with disabilities. DRP protects and advocates for the rights of people with disabilities so they may live the lives they choose, free from abuse, neglect, discrimination, and segregation. For more information, visit www.disabilityrightspa.org]www.disabilityrightspa.org.