PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION ON A PENNSYLVANIA BILL ESTABLISHING AN ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR YOUTH COURTS

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a longstanding tradition of addressing the unmet legal needs of children, and engagement in public schools to promote better understanding of civics and our system of justice; and

WHEREAS, the governing principle of Pennsylvania's Juvenile Act is restorative justice, promoting competency development in children and community protection; and

WHEREAS, large numbers of Pennsylvania's youths experience early contact with the justice system which may put them at greater risk for future contact as an adult absent access to diversion programs emphasizing the principles of restorative justice; and

WHEREAS, the development of youth courts has been supported by previous resolution by the Philadelphia Bar Association and Philadelphia City Council, as well as by training initiatives sponsored by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Bar Association; and

WHEREAS, recent training and advocacy, has led to the reintroduction and expansion of youth courts at a selection of schools across the city; and

WHEREAS, the Judiciary Committee of the Pennsylvania Senate recently and unanimously approved Senate Resolution 32 which recognizes the value of youth courts as a positive reformative juvenile justice tool; and

WHEREAS, Senate Resolution 32 directs the Joint State Government Commission to study the use and effects of youth courts in the education and juvenile justice systems, and establishes an advisory committee to conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the same; and

WHEREAS, Senate Resolution 32 directs the Joint State Government Commission to report within 18 months on recommendations to implement necessary changes in state statutes, practices, policies and procedures relating to youth courts, including measures to increase availability of youth courts, and to develop awareness, education and other strategies to address issues relating to youth restorative justice programs;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association calls on the Pennsylvania Senate to pass Senate Resolution 32.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association will collaborate with the American Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association and other local bar associations across Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia School District, the Philadelphia City Council, local juvenile justice authorities, other local partners such as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Community College of Philadelphia, and area law schools and law firms to promote the development of youth courts.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association will assist the Philadelphia City Council, and other local bar associations across Pennsylvania, in promoting further local and state legislation to ensure the development of quality and sustainable youth courts.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association will encourage the legal community to contribute resources to establish youth courts and a support center to promote best practices, provide planning, training, coordination, data collection, and liaison services to schools and juvenile justice systems.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: May 24, 2017