PA Juvenile Justice Reform Pew Task Force Update

Malik Pickett, Esq.,

Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the Juvenile Justice Task Force meeting scheduled for May 6, 2020 has officially been canceled. The previous meeting scheduled for April 8, 2020 was also canceled. The next meeting is scheduled for June 10, 2020. No official decision has been released as to whether the meeting will be canceled or occur virtually/in-person. It is also unclear whether the Task Force schedule will be extended in light of the two cancellations.

The Task Force has the opportunity to discuss not only juvenile justice issues generally, but also how the current public health crisis is affecting incarcerated youth in Pennsylvania. Given this urgency, we hope that the Task Force will hold future meetings virtually instead of canceling. We will be sharing our recommendations for conducting meetings in a virtual format to the Task Force Chairs to guide their decision. We advocate that all meetings be live-streamed, and that recordings of all meetings and related documents be uploaded to the Task Force website.

The Task Force process must also meaningfully engage youth and affected communities, in addition to the youth members on the Task Force. To this end, our recommendations stress the need to have testimony from youth and youth-led meetings where the Task Force can glean the expertise of youth with lived experience in Pennsylvania. We will provide further detail on these recommendations in a blog post to come in the near future.

The public website for the Task Force has been launched and can be accessed at: http://www.pacourts.us/pa-juvenile-justice-task-force. The website currently contains background information on the Task Force, a schedule of upcoming meetings, and the PowerPoint presentation that was used at the first Task Force meeting, among other items.

About the Expert

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.   

Prior to joining that law firm, Pickett functioned as legislative counsel for the Honorable Pennsylvania State Senators Shirley M. Kitchen and Jay Costa. While at the Pennsylvania Senate