Bipartisan support for legislative initiatives that revise the state’s juvenile justice system has bills moving quickly in the House and Senate. The bills stem from the “kids-for-cash” scam in Luzerne County in 2009.
“The bills are an attempt obviously to see that this never happens again,” said a spokesperson for Lisa Baker’s (R-Luzerne) office. “But they’re also the result of talking to lawyers and other legal experts about the best changes to make.”
The bills that were voted out of committee include:
- Senate Bill 815 – Requires counsel be provided for a child at every stage of a judicial proceeding.
- Senate Bill 816 – Requires the proposed Office of Victim Advocate to represent and advocate for the interests of victims of juvenile crime.
- Senate Bill 817 – Restricts the use of restraints on juveniles during court proceedings.
- Senate Bill 818 – Requires a court to publicly state the reason for the disposition of a delinquent child on the record in open court.
In the House, the Judiciary Committee approved HB 1546 that requires the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission to post on their public website information they collect on juvenile sentencing trends, evidence-based programs and other practices in Pennsylvanian and make recommendations based on their findings to judges and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. The bill would also require public officials or public employees to forfeit pension benefits if they are found guilty, or plead guilty or no contest, to a crime related to public office or public employment.