Over Two Years Since Bipartisan Juvenile Justice Taskforce Recommendations Release, Omnibus Juvenile Justice Reform Bill Finally Moves Out of Committee

Katy Otto,
PA Capitol Building

Juvenile Law Center heralds the passage, urges House and Senate to act on behalf of children in the Commonwealth

Philadelphia, PA (September 27, 2023) – Today the Pennsylvania House Judiciary voted HB 1381, Representative Dan Miller’s Juvenile Justice Reform omnibus package, out of committee and to the full House floor. The move represents the most action towards comprehensive juvenile justice reform the Commonwealth has seen in over two years since the release of a bipartisan report with recommendations from the Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task force Governor Wolf convened in December 2019.

“We are happy to see House Bill 1381 pass out of committee,” said Malik Pickett, Senior Attorney of Juvenile Law Center. “It is a step towards transforming Pennsylvania’s youth justice system. This vote has been a long time in the making and we hope the House and Senate take it up quickly. Youth in Pennsylvania can’t afford to wait any longer for change.”

Juvenile Law Center has been fighting alongside youth and advocates who have been pushing the enactment of these reforms the past few years. In May 2022, advocates also spoke before the Senate Judiciary committee, emphasizing the urgency of these reforms – including Hillary Transue who had been ensnared in Pennsylvania’s horrific Kids for Cash scandal.

“Today was a big day for juvenile justice in the House. Two years ago, a bipartisan state task force not only found that kids were too often getting involved in the judicial process for low-level offenses, but also that the longer they were in the system, the worse their outcomes were likely to be,” said Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny, and author of HB 1381. “This bill seeks to enact many of the recommendations of that task force in order to establish a more accountable, transparent, and equitable juvenile justice system — one that protects community safety, strengthens families, and redirects young people toward productive engagement in their communities.”

With overcrowded facilities across the state, the pressure is now on both the House and the Senate to pass these reforms. We urge Speaker McClinton to call the bill to a full floor vote with expediency, and for Chairwoman Lisa Baker to move these measures through the Senate Judiciary committee.

About the Expert

Katy Otto joined Juvenile Law Center in 2016. With a background in communications, development and government relations, she is responsible for the organization’s overall messaging strategy and implementation. She is passionate about youth justice, and committed to ensuring that the public learns about the challenges facing youth in the child welfare and justice systems.

Malik Pickett is a staff attorney at Juvenile Law Center who joined the organization in 2020. He advocates for the rights of youth in the juvenile justice system through litigation, amicus and policy advocacy efforts. Prior to joining Juvenile Law Center, Pickett worked as an associate attorney with the law firm of Wade Clark Mulcahy, LLP where he litigated personal injury and construction defect cases and as a legislative counsel for the Honorable Pennsylvania State Senators Shirley M. Kitchen and Jay Costa.