Pa. Governor’s Council Recommends Sweeping Changes to Juvenile Justice Programs

Lisa Gartner, The Philadelphia Inquirer •

Several state officials, including DHS Secretary Teresa Miller and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, are named alongside Glen Mills in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of former students. Marsha Levick, chief legal officer of Juvenile Law Center, a nonprofit children’s advocacy group leading the lawsuit, said it is possible state officials “could do enough” in reforming their systems to merit dropping these officials from its lawsuit.

The law center released its own report Friday morning, urging Pennsylvania officials to stop relying on juvenile institutions and instead find solutions for youth in the community.

“We think reduction in youth placements can be dramatic, and needs to be dramatic," said Jessica Feierman, senior managing director of the Juvenile Law Center. "One of the real dangers of juvenile facilities is that young people are out of our sight and anything can happen to them.”

The center, based in Philadelphia, pointed to national research that shows juvenile institutions do not reduce a youth’s likelihood to reoffend. Rather, the report said, children in placement are more likely to become isolated from their families and communities.

About the Expert

Marsha Levick co-founded Juvenile Law Center in 1975. Throughout her legal career, Levick has been an advocate for children’s and women's rights and is a nationally recognized expert in juvenile law.

Jessica Feierman oversees Juvenile Law Center’s projects and programs. Feierman currently leads a national effort to end fines and fees in the juvenile justice system and is engaged in litigation aimed at eliminating solitary confinement and other abusive practices in juvenile facilities.