Juvenile Justice System Reform Bill Introduced
As part of a broader mission to reduce juvenile prosecution and recidivism across the country, Governor Dannel Malloy introduced a bill that would raise the age of criminal responsibility to 21 years old. If passed, this bill could have extremely important repercussions for any youthful offenders being charged or prosecuted in Connecticut. If you or your child have been charged with a criminal offense and you have questions about the current law or how the new law could affect you, please contact an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney who can address your concerns.
The Benefits of Reform
Last year, Governor Malloy proposed a similar law that would have raised the age when a juvenile could be charged as an adult to 21 years old. Although the law stalled in the Connecticut Legislature, the new bill has received support from a number of different groups in the state. The reintroduction is also part of a country-wide effort to lower recidivism among youth offenders. In fact, at least three other states are considering similar proposals.
Researchers claim that by analyzing adolescent brain development and psychology, they have discovered that young adults would benefit from the juvenile justice system’s focus on rehabilitation, which includes close supervision, counseling, and educational programs. In fact, some researchers estimate that the brain does not finish developing until a person’s mid-twenties, making them highly susceptible to impulsive action and poor decision making. By granting young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 access to rehabilitation-based programs, the state expects to not only lower recidivism, but also to reduce the prison population in the state by ten percent.
Connecticut’s juvenile justice system is comprised of juvenile courts, correctional facilities, detention centers, and residential facilities. The Superior court for Juvenile Matters has jurisdiction over all youths who, before their 18th birthday, violated or attempted to violate a federal, state, or city law. Generally, juveniles are also subject to different procedures and penalties than adults. Youths who have been convicted in juvenile court, for example, can have their records expunged once they reach the age of majority and have satisfied certain requirements. Adult criminal records, on the other hand, are permanent and so affect a person’s ability to find housing, secure employment, or take advantage of educational opportunities. The goals of the juvenile justice system in the state are to hold offenders accountable, but also to provide programs and services that promote rehabilitation.
Youths are also protected from prolonged detention. In fact, since January, no children are allowed to be placed in detention unless a judge decides that:
- There is probable cause to believe that a child has committed a criminal offense;
- There is no less restrictive means available; or
- There is probable cause to believe that the child poses a risk to others, will not appear before the court, or must be held for another jurisdiction.
For less serious offenses, a minor will not be required to go to court, but will work with a probation officer who can either dismiss the case, place the youth under supervision with conditions, or recommend judicial handling.
Contact a Stamford Criminal Defense Attorney Today
For help with your own juvenile case, please contact the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner today. Our passionate Stamford criminal defense attorneys are eager to assist you with your case.