Session: 2023-2024

ACLU-PA Position: Supports

SB 168 is part of a bill package intended to address several recommendations made by Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice Task Force in its final 2021 report. Specifically, SB 168 responds to Recommendation 5 in the report.

SB 168 (PN 158) would amend the Human Services Code to add the cost of counsel to the list of costs the Department of Human Services (DHS) is required to reimburse counties in juvenile proceedings. The bill would require DHS to reimburse counties for 50% of the court costs related to:

  • The appointment of counsel for a child in the context of dependency proceedings; and
  • The appointment of counsel for an indigent child in the context of delinquency proceedings.

Pennsylvania is woefully negligent in funding indigent defense, as it remains the only state in the nation that fails to contribute any state-level funding to provide constitutionally-required counsel for those who cannot afford it. Funding provided under SB 168 would begin to strengthen due process and procedural safeguards for indigent juvenile defendants.

Check the bill's status here.


Senator Lisa Baker



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