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Politics & Government

Juvenile Court Judges' Commission Making Changes to System

Juvenile Court_Emily Farah.jpg

The Pennsylvania Juvenile Court System has been working the last few months to make changes so that it will comply with legislation passed in May. The law now requires the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission to collect and analyze data to identify trends and determine the effectiveness of programs to ensure reasonable administration in the system. House Bill 1546 came as a result of the “Kids for Cash” case, a scheme uncovered in 2008 in which two Luzerne County Juvenile Court judges accepted nearly $1 million in kickbacks in exchange for sending juveniles to privately-operated detention facilities. Executive Director Jim Anderson said the commission has been working very closely with juvenile courts throughout the state. "We’ve had six regional training programs related to our Juvenile justice system enhancement strategy that was actually adopted initially back in 2010.” Anderson said a detailed report of the progress made can be expected in October when the commission's annual report is released. He said in moving forward, the Juvenile Court System must provide increased scrutiny among ongoing and closed cases. “I think what, what comes next is a continuing focus on the outcomes of juvenile court cases and looking much more closely at what happens to juveniles once their cases are closed in our system,” Anderson said. He added as part of this effort, court officials will have the resources to make more of an efficient impact on the system. “When judges and juvenile probation staff are better informed about what happens to the juveniles that come into the jurisdiction of the court, what it costs to provide services to those juveniles, they’re going to be in a better position to make future decisions on similar cases,” Anderson said.