More now on an issue we’ve been telling you about in recent weeks – Cases involving teens charged with serious crimes, and what happens afterwards. In one area County, Directors of a Regional Juvenile Detention center acknowledge it’s not just a case of locking up those facing criminal charges.
In recent years, the number of juveniles sentenced with serious crimes has dropped a bit in Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties, but in 65 of Pennsylvania’s other Counties, it is the opposite. More teens are getting in trouble with the law. Compounding the problem is a lack of facilities to house young offenders. In some cases, Teens are charged with felony crimes and then released and sent home, with no place to detain them. Commissioner Steven Dershem saying: “As the Juvenile Justice System puts individuals into custody of these facilities, there are not enough of them. They close faster than they open.”
Centre County is home to one of the few Juvenile Detention Centers in our area, serving multiple Counties. There’s no plans of expanding in the near future. The most pressing issue now is staffing. Dershem adding: “One of the challenges we’re having now is that as other Counties outside our 5-County joint operation come to us for requests, we have to be a little more selective just based on the staffing issues that we are now addressing.”
In Harrisburg, a series of Juvenile Justice Bills including one for more funding are nearing a vote in the Senate. Whether it’s through the legislature or elsewhere, those on the frontline saying changes are needed now.