For far too long the juvenile justice system has incarcerated low-risk youth, increasing their likelihood of reoffense and stripping them away from their families and communities. Diversion is an alternative to incarceration that allows youth to receive support from members of their community in an effort to deter them from overinvolvement in the juvenile system. Despite consistent data that diversion programs reduce recidivism while allowing youth to stay in their communities, many states are not implementing them. Not only does out-of-home placement separate families, but it can also cost hundreds of thousands of tax dollars. If these funds were poured into community-based programs, many states would see a substantial decrease in recidivism rates.
Juvenile Justice in PA
About 60% of youth that enter the juvenile justice system are low-risk for reoffense. Even though 80% of diversions in the state are successful, the state does not effectively utilize these programs. Instead, youth are placed in out-of-community placement where they on average 16 months, costing the state close to $200,000 per youth. Read below to find out what Pennsylvania legislators are doing to change this.
Youth Safety Caucus
Sen. Camera Bartolotta, Sen. Anthony Williams, Rep. Natalie Mihalek, and Rep. Melissa Shusterman have created a bi-partisan Youth Safety Caucus. The goals of the caucus are to keep families intact, hold youth accountable, and utilize more evidence-based programming. Pennsylvania resident? Urge your representatives to join the caucus by emailing using the sample letter below. Call on them to care about these young people!