Pennsylvania Senate Hearing on Police Accountability

Malik Pickett, Esq.,
An image of a row of seats in an empty courtroom

On June 17-18, 2020, the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary and Law & Justice Committees held a joint hearing on Ensuring Accountability and Equality in Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System. In the wake of the tragic murders of unarmed Black men and women across the country, the hearing focused on the challenges and potential solutions to racial inequality in Pennsylvania’s law enforcement and criminal justice systems. The hearing elicited testimony from various stakeholders in Pennsylvania who had experience working with law enforcement and criminal justice issues. Among the list of individuals to testify were representatives from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police, NAACP, ACLU, and other criminal justice organizations.

Juvenile Law Center was invited to testify and discuss our first-hand experiences seeking to remedy the inequities children face in juvenile justice systems in Pennsylvania, and around the country. Riya Saha Shah, Managing Director; and Malik Pickett, Staff Attorney provided testimony highlighting that Black and Brown youth are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement, treated unfairly in the justice system, and incarcerated at higher rates than other racial groups. We also provided recommendations for improving racial equality in the Pennsylvania juvenile justice system, which included reducing the use of police in schools, increasing workforce diversity in the juvenile justice workforce, and addressing bias in decision-making. A copy of the statement we submitted for the hearing regarding our findings and recommendations can be found below.

About the Expert

Riya leads the organization’s work on juvenile record confidentiality and expungement. She has written extensively on collateral consequences, expungement, and the right to counsel, and was instrumental in Pennsylvania’s successful challenge to the imposition of harsh registration laws for youth charged with sexual offenses.

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