Bill of Rights
for Victims of Juvenile Crime
Act 86, known as the Bill of Rights for Victims of Juvenile Crime, became effective on December 29, 2000. Act 86 amended the Crime Victims Act to expand the rights afforded to crime victims of adult offenders to be applicable to victims of juvenile offenders involved in the PA Juvenile Justice System.
The Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure further outline and clarify rules regarding notification of actions and proceedings pertaining to a victim's case such as the date, time, place, purpose and outcome of the proceeding. In general, The Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure for Delinquency Matters have dispensed with offense restrictions in extending notice and comment rights to victims of juvenile delinquency cases.
Crime Victims Bill of Rights 11.201: Juvenile Act 2008 (pdf)
In Pa, there is currently no legal standing or legal remedy for a victims' rights violation. OVA is currently working to amend the PA Constitution to provide rights for victims, known as Marsy's Law. If you feel your rights as a crime victim have been violated, please submit this form to OVA and a Victim Assistance Coordinator will get in contact with you.
OVA has a dedicated team member specifically devoted to advocating for crime victims/survivors whose offenders are juveniles. Our Juvenile Justice Victim Assistance Coordinator works to create positive partnerships throughout the juvenile justice system to promote and strengthen balanced and restorative practices throughout the Commonwealth. This position also aides in providing technical support to all victim assistance personnel at the local level who work exclusively with victims of juvenile offenders to ensure a warm hand off from county to state victim services.
One of the programs that OVA oversees is the Juvenile Restorative Group Conferences curriculum. In 1995, PA's Juvenile Act incorporated Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) as the theoretical foundation to the juvenile justice system. BARJ focuses on the needs of the crime victim, family members, and the community, as well as the offender. This victim-centered approach specifically addresses juvenile restorative justice programs which are used with youthful offenders who were age 10 to 17 at the time of the delinquent offense.
A restorative group conference is a victim-centered voluntary face-to-face encounter between a victim (or victims), the offender(s), individuals who support each of them, and others who have been affected by the incident. Led by a trained facilitator, this encounter seeks to identify, repair and prevent harm, based in restorative justice values including meaningful accountability.
OVA's curriculum trains facilitators to work with both adults and juveniles, with special attention to underlying causes for juveniles and behavior-based modifications. Restorative conferences can be used at any point in the justice system; participation of the offender is based upon their willingness and readiness.
If you would like more information on Restorative Group Conferencing or juvenile justice in PA, please call OVA at 800.563.6399 or email RA-OVAinfo@pa.gov.