FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Phyllis Mundy
Public hearing on juvenile justice commission report a success
HARRISBURG, Oct. 14 – State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, said a public hearing she hosted today gave residents the opportunity to learn more about the final report and recommendations issued by the Inter-Branch Commission on Juvenile Justice.
Mundy requested the hearing held by the House Children and Youth Committee, of which she is a member, in an effort to help the region move forward in repairing and strengthening Luzerne County's juvenile justice system and those across the state.
"The commission, committee and area lawmakers are adamant about preventing future abuses of power like those that occurred in the Luzerne County juvenile justice system," Mundy said. "It is incumbent upon us to uphold the rights of children who enter the system. Today's hearing allowed us to further examine the commission’s recommendations and to shed light on ways to prevent travesties of justice from taking place in the future."
In September, the House unanimously passed legislation introduced by Mundy to strengthen Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system by expanding the duties of the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission. Mundy's bill (H.B. 1384) would allow the commission to analyze court cases and other data and make appropriate recommendations for improving the system. Those recommendations would be provided to juvenile judges and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
JCJC would also be required to recommend evidence-based programs and other best practices for system improvements. All of the information would be made available on its website, www.jcjc.state.pa.us.
Key participants in the hearing included: Superior Court Judge John M. Cleland, chairman of the Inter-Branch Commission; President Judge Thomas F. Burke, Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas; Luzerne County District Attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll; and representatives from the State Victim Advocate and JCJC. Incidentally, the executive director of JCJC, James Anderson, testified this past year that Mundy had contacted him back in 2005 to inquire about Luzerne County’s high juvenile detention placement rates.
The Inter-Branch Commission on Juvenile Justice was created in 2009 to investigate the failure of the juvenile justice system in Luzerne County. In May, the 11-member commission released a final report outlining systemic problems that occurred in Luzerne County's juvenile justice system, along with concrete recommendations for fixing those problems.
Mundy's bill awaits action in the state Senate.