Berks County juvenile-court system gets $30,000 for more staff
The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency has approved more than $30,000 in grants to bolster the juvenile-justice system in Berks County.
The district attorney's office received $15,042 to help fund two assistant district attorneys and one support staff member for the county juvenile court.
The funding will help increase the number of prehearing diversion cases and prehearing case negotiations, and reduce the number of preventable case continuances.
The public defender's office received $15,043 to partially fund a full-time assistant public defender and support staff member to meet increasing needs of juvenile offenders.
The funding will ensure that juveniles are represented at the earliest opportunity and help public defender staff reduce conflicts that cause court delays and the need for new counsel.
"These grants will help Berks County Courts handle juvenile criminal cases quickly and smoothly because the offices will have appropriate staff to accommodate case loads,” said state Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, a Reading Democrat who is the House Judiciary Committee chairman.
"Ultimately, this makes the court system more accountable to the public and more effective in rehabilitating troubled children," Caltagirone continued. "It also eliminates unnecessary and costly courtroom appearances and backlogs. It's important to remember that when we let children get lost in the criminal justice system, in the long run, no one benefits."
State Sen Judy Schwank said it’s important to adequately staff the court system.
"This funding will help the courts meet increasing demands on their resources, but it also will give minors the counsel they need to get their lives back on track, and hopefully avoid future entanglements with the law."
The funding comes from the federal Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program.