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The 2013 Pennsylvania Conference on Juvenile Justice, sponsored by the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission, the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and the Juvenile Court Section of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges will be held November 6-8, 2013 at the Harrisburg Hilton and Towers. 


The conference will begin on November 6th with an opportunity for participants to join with colleagues from their area of specialty within Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system in Professional Caucuses, and to discuss issues of mutual concern and interest.

Juvenile Defender Training Youth Awards Program

Juvenile defenders from across Pennsylvania will attend the Conference on Juvenile Justice, and participate in a separate training track developed exclusively for them on Wednesday, November 6th. 


The 2013 Youth Awards Program will be held on Wednesday evening, November 6th, and usually is attended by close to 600 people. Youth will be recognized as winners in Poster, Creative Expression, and Outstanding Achievement award categories. Additionally, the Juvenile Court Section of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges will be presenting two deserving youth with Juvenile Justice Scholarships.

This year's Youth Awards Speaker is Ms. Aislinn Vaughan, the Director of Spirit Fire Farm, a community-based program serving at-risk youth in southeastern Pennsylvania. Ms. Vaughan founded Spirit Fire Farm at age eighteen after recognizing a need for different treatment options for adolescents and young adults. She developed the program model based on her own life experience with addiction, trauma, and the juvenile justice system including placement in a secure program, as well as the experiences of other young people with whom she interacted.

With 14 years of professional experience in the equine industry, Ms. Vaughan specializes in Equine Assisted Therapeutic Activities, utilizing rescued horses to promote emotional, spiritual, behavioral and physical health. Spirit Fire Farm has since grown exponentially and is having a great deal of success assisting struggling young people on their path of recovery. 


On Thursday morning, November 7th, the Keynote presentation will be provided by invited guest Mr. Robert Listenbee, Jr. who was appointed by President Barack Obama as the Administrator of the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in February 2013, and was sworn in to the position on March 25, 2013. Before his appointment to OJJDP, Mr. Listenbee was Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia for 16 years and was a trial lawyer with the association for 27 years. Mr. Listenbee played a central role in the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative. As co-chair of the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, he was instrumental in the development of recommendations for launching a coordinated national response to address children’s exposure to violence. Mr. Listenbee served on the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, and was also a member of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee of PCCD. In 2011, he was honored by the MacArthur Foundation as a Champion for Change in juvenile justice reform. 


Participants may attend fourteen different workshops on Thursday, November 7th. Each workshop was specifically selected to address various aspects of evidence-based probation practice and the Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy. As such, the morning workshops will be repeated in the afternoon session in an effort to allow participants to maximize exposure to the selected topics. The workshops will include:

  • Advancing Balanced and Restorative Justice through the Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy (JJSES)
  • Implementing Motivational Interviewing in Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)
  • Effective Case Planning Utilizing the Youth Level of Service (YLS) Assessment
  • Pennsylvania's Recidivism Project: Implications and Next Steps
  • The Pennsylvania Academic and Career Technical Training (PACTT) Initiative
  • Juvenile Justice Evidence-Based Practices 101
  • How Healthcare Reform Can Help Children & Families in the Juvenile Justice System
  • Enhancing our Response to Crime Victims
  • Implementing the Four Core Competencies: Professional Alliance; Skill Practice; Case Planning; and Rewards and Sanctions
  • Developing a Graduated Response Model and Disposition Matrix
  • Aggression Replacement Training: A Cognitive Behavioral Intervention
  • The Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP): Evaluating the Effectiveness of Juvenile Justice Interventions Keys to Effective Diversion Policies, Practices and Programs
  • Strategies to Support and Engage Families


The afternoon plenary session, entitled " Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: Enhancing Decision-Making, Case Planning and Service Delivery", will be presented by Dr. Gina M. Vincent. Dr. Vincent is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Co-Director of the National Youth Screening and Assessment Project (NYSAP), a technical assistance center designed to assist juvenile justice agencies with the selection and implementation of both mental health and delinquency risk assessments. Dr. Vincent consults with juvenile justice agencies and juvenile justice systems across the United States around the implementation of risk assessments and case planning. She worked closely with Pennsylvania in the selection and implementation of the Youth Level of Service (YLS) risk/needs assessment instrument. She has received funding from both the National Institute of Mental Health and the MacArthur Foundation to conduct research regarding risk to re-offend, mental health problems, and substance abuse among youth in the juvenile justice system. 

Annual Awards Program and Dinner

Thursday's activities will conclude with the 33rd Annual Awards Program and Dinner. The Juvenile Court Judges' Commission and the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers will honor both individuals and programs for their outstanding work in Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system.

Resource Day

Friday morning November 8th, the 2013 Pennsylvania Conference on Juvenile Justice concludes with Resource Day. Conference participants will have the opportunity to learn about new, innovative, and creative approaches to working with juveniles. Representatives from private and public residential programs, informational services, technology services, and other vendors will be available to present information and discuss products and services.