ACLU-PA Position: Supports
Current law under Act 33 of Special Session 1 of 1995 requires individuals between the ages of 15 and 17 charged with certain felonies be charged in adult court if they meet certain requirements, such as the use of a weapon during the alleged crime. Enacted during the 1990's racially-fueled hysteria over "super predators," this “direct file” law has been proven time and again to be an ineffective, failed, and cruel policy that forces children into the adult prison system. The practice of charging, trying, and incarcerating young people has made us demonstrably unsafe, as all available data show that young people tried as adults have higher rates of recidivism than those who remain in the juvenile system.
In addition to repealing Pennsylvania's direct file law, HB 1551 would prohibit prosecuting any child as an adult, even after a hearing in front of a juvenile court judge.
Check the bill's status here.