Connecticut Senate Republicans have released a draft bill aiming to provide more work opportunities while also addressing a rise in crime among young people.
Advocates say reforms should not be reversed, and strategies addressing crime should support community needs.
Car thefts in the state increased 40% between 2019 and 2020, although data showed young people weren’t the majority of those cases. Car thefts had also fallen to historic lows through 2019.
Hector Glynn, co-chair of the racial and ethnic disparities work group for the Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee, said the uptick in crime connects to socioeconomic challenges exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Those social interactions have really taken an effect as people sheltered in, and it’s not unexpected that you are going to have greater anti-social behaviors,” Glynn asserted. “Prior to this, we were doing extremely well, learning how to deal with people who commit crime.”
The draft bill includes GPS monitoring of young people arrested on violent-crime charges while awaiting trial along with needs-based scholarship programs for higher education. A Senate Republican spokesperson said Judiciary Committee co-chairs are expected to raise portions of the proposed bill with public hearings likely starting next week.
Robert Francis, co-founder of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, said some measures under the draft legislation focus on accountability. He noted the state Juvenile Review Boards, which use restorative justice to mediate between a victim and a low-level offender without court involvement, accomplish the same goals. He says it can be a model for assisting young people with more challenging behaviors.
“There’s accountability in that there’s appropriate measures taken that address behavior of the young people,” Francis contended. “For example, if the young person was involved in vandalism of some sort, their accountability measure would be that they would get involved in repairing something.”
Other reforms advocates say helped lower youth incarceration rates include the state raising the minimum age for which adolescents could be charged with most crimes as an adult to 18 in 2012.