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District Attorney’s Office Encourages Community Members to Apply for Juvenile Diversion Youth Aid Panel

PHILADELPHIA (March 7, 2022) — District Attorney Larry Krasner today called on Philadelphia residents to make a difference in the lives of youth by applying to volunteer for the Youth Aid Panel (YAP). YAP is a youth diversion program, first started in 1987, that focuses on rehabilitation and prevention outside of the court system for young people accused of certain low-level crimes, through a victim and community-centered approach to accountability.

Youth Aid Panels bring together the family of the juvenile, the crime victim, and members of the community to devise a plan agreed upon by parents or guardians, the harmed party, and a handful of community members, to make everyone whole. Panels also hold the juvenile accountable and help them avoid a criminal record that could cause serious harm to their futures. Once the juvenile successfully completes the agreed-upon plan, their juvenile record is expunged.From 2018 to 2019, the YAP program has touted an 83% success rate for having juveniles complete their obligations to victims and the community. Of the 593 system-involved youth diverted to Panels, 459 of them completed their requirements and had their juvenile records expunged. During the COVID-19 pandemic (specifically between April 2020 and December 2021), 71% of juveniles completed their obligations to victims and the community, following 103 virtual Panel hearings. Panels take place in 7 police districts: 2nd District, 14th District, 17th District, 18th District, 22nd District, 24th District, and the 35th District.

“This program is a gem, in my opinion, because it allows us to partner with the community so that we can impart wisdom, understanding, forgiveness, and love,” said Faith Harris, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Juvenile Diversion Program Manager. “It also enables us to connect young people and parents to resources, programs, and services so that we can redirect them and help them have a better future.”“There’s no monetary value that can compensate for the meaning that helping a youth can bring to our lives,” said Dwayne Harris, a YAP volunteer with the 35th Police District who has participated for the last five years. “We’re looking for more volunteers, for more people to come join us and help us change lives for the better through this excellent program.”

“Youth Aid Panels are critically important to our communities. They rehabilitate system-involved juveniles, and hold them accountable for any harm while protecting their futures from a criminal record,” said DA Krasner. “I commend all of the YAP volunteers who take to heart the notion that it takes a community to raise a child, because their work makes us all safer. YAP volunteers do God’s work.”The YAP program is primarily seeking male volunteers between the ages of 25-45 as well as Spanish speakers. Community members interested in learning more about the Youth Aid Panel program or to volunteer should email [email protected].

CONTACT:Dustin Slaughter, 215-686-8713, [email protected]

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million residents of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually. Learn more about the DAO by visiting PhillyDA.org.