Harrisburg, PA - Today, the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission (JCJC) in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), kicked off the 2023 Pennsylvania Conference on Juvenile Justice in Harrisburg with more than 870 attendees. The annual event is also supported by the Juvenile Section of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges and the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers.
“This year’s conference theme – ‘Building a Stronger Tomorrow: Youth, Communities, and Stakeholders in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System’ – demonstrates our system’s commitment to working collaboratively with all partners, understanding the critical role each plays in building safe, strong, and healthy communities, and advancing our Balanced and Restorative Justice mission,” said JCJC Executive Director Robert Tomassini. “We are thrilled with the enthusiastic response to this event, which demonstrates the strong interest in improving engagement with Pennsylvania’s youth, families, and communities.”
Conference participants include a wide range of juvenile justice professionals and related stakeholders, including Judges, Probation Officers, District Attorneys, Defenders, victim services professionals, residential and community-based service providers, and other entities. Several sessions throughout the conference also included justice-involved youth who shared their experiences and perspectives on ways Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system can be improved.
“It’s encouraging to see that the latest data from JCJC show fewer Pennsylvania youth are entering the juvenile justice system and for less serious crimes, and that the number of referrals to the juvenile justice system has decreased 38 percent over the last decade. We need to continue to move in this direction,” said PCCD Executive Director Mike Pennington. “Conferences such as this— which support juvenile justice practitioners through training and professional development and raise youth voices— play a key role in that improvement process.”
Over the three-day conference, workshops will focus on various topics and issues facing juvenile justice professionals, while also highlighting practices, programs, and initiatives that exemplify best-practices related to Pennsylvania's Balanced & Restorative Justice mission and Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy (JJSES). Workshop topics include:
- Meeting the Needs of Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- The Intersection of Childhood Trauma and Juvenile Justice
- Addressing Youth Competency to Proceed
- Engaging Justice-Involved Youth Through “Homegrown” Services
- From the Front Lines: Perspectives from Youth and Professionals on Gun Violence
- Creating Effective Partnerships: Black Girls Equity Alliance and the Allegheny County Juvenile Probation Department
- Advancing Effective Services for Victims
- The Juvenile Court’s Role in Prevention
- Embracing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging: County Perspectives
- Best Practices for Providing Educational Services in Juvenile Justice Settings
- Youth and the Juvenile Justice System: Trends You Should Know
- Interest of Justice Determinations: What Juvenile Justice Professionals Need to Know
- Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) for Youth
The conference also hosts two annual awards dinners: the Youth Awards Program, to honor youth in the Creative Expression Contest and the Outstanding Achievement Award, and the Annual Award Program, which recognizes individuals and programs for their outstanding service to Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system.
More information on the conference, including workshops and featured speakers, can be found on the JCJC website.
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