PLBC and Policy Committee listen to youth perspective on criminal justice

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 10 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., and the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today held a joint hearing with the House Democratic Policy Committee on youth perspective on criminal justice.


The PLBC requested the hearing to give youth an opportunity to express their views on the current criminal justice system.


“I am grateful to the young people who were present for today’s hearing, as we are working to make changes to our society, including our criminal justice system, so that they will grow up in a better, more just world,” Kinsey said. “We know our system is flawed and unfair but hearing from the experts who testified today gave us invaluable information and insight that can be used to make much-needed improvements. I hope our young people know, after attending this hearing, that their voices are valued.”


“Criminal Justice Reform is one of the important Civil Rights issues of our time,” Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., said. “Additionally, many of our young people are affected by it as participants themselves or as a family member of a participant. It’s important to hear their voice as we continue to address this important issue.”


The Philadelphia Community Youth Court sits in Harris’ district and is located at the Universal Institute Charter School, where the hearing took place.  


They were joined by state legislators from across the state.


Testifiers included students who are Philadelphia Community Youth Court members and hold positions as judges, youth advocates, forepersons and bailiffs; Jeffrey Williams, principal, Universal Institute Charter School; Tyrone Highsmith, dean of students, Universal Institute Charter School; Francine Daniels, CEO and founder, Philadelphia Community Youth Court; and Roi Ligon Jr., Safe Schools Advocate, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Kinsey said positive testimony also was given by students who have gone before the Philadelphia Community Youth Court.


The Philadelphia Community Youth Court is a pre-diversionary program in which youth sanction their peers for minor status offenses and other problematic behaviors by rendering a restorative disposition. The court’s mission is to work with youth and the community to end the school-to-prison pipeline.