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Basic services, 2014

  • Overall

    Locally operated

  • Detention

    Locally operated

  • Probation

    Locally operated

  • Reentry

    Locally operated

Pennsylvania's delinquency services are organized at the both the state and local level. Community supervision in Pennsylvania is administered by local county juvenile courts. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), Bureau of Juvenile Services a state social services agency, administers commitments to state public facilities, while reentry services, for youth leaving those facilities, are administered locally by county juvenile courts.

Secure detention in Pennsylvania is administered at the county level either through a variety of local executive agencies or local judicial (juvenile courts) agencies.

Corrections agency, 2015

  • Independent juvenile corrections agency

  • Family/child welfare agency or division

  • Broad human services agency

  • Adult corrections agency or division

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), Bureau of Juvenile Services administers commitments to state juvenile correctional facilities, while reentry services, for youth leaving those facilities, are administered locally by county juvenile courts.

Solitary confinement, 2016

  • Prohibits punitive confinement

  • Limits punitive confinement

  • No limits on punitive confinement

  • Did not respond

Solitary confinement for punitive purposes is not allowed in Pennsylvania's juvenile correctional facilities. Non-punitive seclusion, used to prevent a child from hurting himself or others, is permitted in 4-hour periods and may be extended by a clinician’s written order, however it may not exceed 8 hours in any 48-hour period without court order.  (Adapted from 51 Jurisdiction Survey of Juvenile Solitary Confinement Rules in Juvenile Justice Systems, 2016. Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest at Lowenstein Sandler LLP)

Release decision, 2016

  • Agency

  • Court

  • Parole board

  • Agency and court

Release decisions for youth committed to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services or other private or public placement are the responsibility of the committing courts.

Risk assessment, 2017

Organization 2013 2017
Statewide uniform assessment
Layered/regional assessment
Locally administered assessment

Juvenile probation in Pennsylvania is administered locally by county juvenile courts; however, statewide policies, regulations, and training are supported by the Juvenile Court Judges Commission, the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The organizations encourage the consistent use of the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI) for case level decision-making through probation officer training and best practice recommendations.

As of November 2013, 66 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties were using the tool. Probation officers use the results of the YLS/CMI to match services and be responsive to an individual’s risks, needs, and individual characteristics. Information from the YLS/CMI is used to guide decisions regarding diversion from formal processing, develop/inform pre-disposition investigation reports and/or planning, guide probation disposition recommendations to the juvenile court, assign probation supervision level, and develop probation case plans. Each county has the ability to generate multiple reports from the YLS/CMI data that allows them to identify gaps in services and to assist in the monitoring of quality assurance, including inter-rater reliability.

Pennsylvania also aggregates YLS/CMI data to assist in probation administration and organizational planning and for ongoing policy research.

Risk instruments, 2017

  • Statute or agency policy

    Required by state or administrative regulation

  • Agency recommended

    Recommended by probation oversite agency

Risk instruments tool used
Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI)

Mental health screening, 2014

Requires a research-based mental health screening

  • Secure detention

  • Probation

  • Corrections

Mental health screening tool used
Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument –Version 2 (MAYSI-2)

Pennsylvania requires the use of a behavioral health screening at either detention or probation. Because detention and probation are administered locally in Pennsylvania, the state cannot require the practice; however, both the Juvenile Detention Centers Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers encourage the use of the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument, 2nd Edition (MAYSI-2). Furthermore, detention centers and local probation agencies are encouraged to coordinate screening protocols and share information.

The MAYSI-2 is identified as a key component for counties of Stage 2 of Pennsylvania's Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy (JJSES), an initiative of the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission, the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. To encourage the use of the MAYSI-2 statewide, the state plans to integrate the instrument into the statewide juvenile probation case management system. There are also efforts to support counties to develop response protocols, and counties can access training for implementation.

Frameworks for evidence-based practices, 2014

  • Statute

    Supporting commitment to EBPs

  • Administrative regulations

    Either in corrections, probation, or the juvenile court

  • Support center

    Or collaboration dedicated to coordinating activities around implementing, evaluating, and sustaining EBPs

  • No stance

    No official stance on EBPs

  • Did not respond

    State did not respond to the survey

Pennsylvania supports the implementation and proliferation of evidence-based programs and practices (EBPs) in the juvenile justice system through policy, planning, and dedicated funding. The Juvenile Act encourages the use of EBPs whenever possible, and this policy is supported by Pennsylvania's Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy (JJSES), a comprehensive strategic plan that calls for employing EBPs with fidelity at every stage of the juvenile justice process.

The state's 3-year plan and the SAG's bi-annual report to the governor reiterate the commitment to advancing EBPs. To this end, the state's Violence Prevention Program allows for dedicated funding of 8 specified EBPs, and legislation requires that a percentage of drug and alcohol fines be dedicated to evidence-based prevention programs. Grantees are required to submit implementation and outcome data and undergo a fidelity verification process in the second year of implementation.

The state funds a Resource Center for Evidence-Based Prevention and Intervention Programs and Practices (EPISCenter) to provide technical assistance for agencies implementing EBP, to support local innovative programs in aligning with best practices, and to evaluate juvenile justice programs through the use of the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP). The EPISCenter supports Pennsylvania’s current effort to evaluate juvenile justice programming across the state using the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP).

Recidivism reporting, 2016

Study populations

The group(s) of youth being studied in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Re-offense events

Events that are used to measure recidivism in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Follow-up periods

Details regarding the length of time and frequency that youth are tracked in states that publicly report recidivism data.

24 months with interval and adult systems reporting

Details

Additional levels of analysis provided in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • County

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Race/ethn.

  • Risk level

  • Initial offense

  • Re-offense

  • Prior history

The Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges' Commission reports recidivism data for youth with juvenile court case closed in the reporting year. Recidivism is defined as a subsequent delinquency adjudication or conviction in criminal court for either a misdemeanor or felony offense within two years of case closure. Recidivism rates are presented at 6 month intervals with a maximum follow up period of 24 months.

Data sources

The Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Recidivism Report: Juveniles with Cases Closed in 2007, 2008, 2009, or 2010
Juvenile Court Judges' Commission

Progressive recidivism data

Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Court Judges Commission publishes comprehensive recidivism data on a broad cohort of juveniles who have had juvenile court cases closed in a given year. This report is fairly unique in that it includes analyses detailing family status (married, divorced, deceased) and separate analyses of sex offender and serious, violent, chronic, and child offender populations.

Family status of recidivists*: Juveniles with cases closed in 2007, 2008, 2009, or 2010

 2007200820092010Four-year total
Family StatusNumber of recidivistsPercentage of recidivist populationNumber of recidivistsPercentage of recidivist populationNumber of recidivistsPercentage of recidivist populationNumber of recidivistsPercentage of recidivist populationNumber of recidivistsPercentage of recidivist population
Parents never married 1388 43% 1656 47% 1870 49% 1561 48% 6475 47%
Separated/divorced 969 30% 934 26% 940 25% 856 26% 3699 27%
Married 692 21% 697 20% 706 19% 583 18% 2678 19%
One/both parents deceased 207 6% 248 7% 273 7% 244 8% 972 7%
Total 3256   3535   3789   3244   13824  

*The family status of 569 recidivists with a case closed in 2007, 252 juveniles with a case closed in 2008, 417 juveniles with a case closed in 2009, and 380 juveniles with a case closed in 2010 was not reported in the PaJCMS.

 

Report excerpt, The Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Recidivism Report: Juveniles with Cases Closed in 2007, 2008, 2009, or 2010 (p. 62).

About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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