Where do repeat offenders go?
HARTFORD, Connecticut (WTNH) – Reforming juvenile justice is not easy. On Thursday evening, all players are engaged, from judges and court support services to public defenders and prosecutors – as well as police authorities.
State Senator John Kissel, a Republican from Enfield, is one of the leaders examining how the state should make changes to protect teenagers and the public.
“We have to take considerable steps to bring the escalating danger to the population back under control,” said Kissel.
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Legislators say gaps in the way the system treats a troubled teenager were shocking to them.
“We are aware that these problems are very complicated,” said Vin Candelora, State Representative for the Leader of Minorities in the House of Representatives.
News 8 asked judicial officials for answers. Who can be arrested? And where are they going?
Officials tell us people between the ages of 10 and 18 can be arrested.
Police officers can issue a verbal warning, talk to parents, and refer the child to a youth testing center for community service. Law enforcement may also choose to arrest and release a teen pending court appearance. You can also arrest a youth and hold them for up to six hours while the police in a detention center request an “arrest warrant”. A judge has to de-register.
There are two detention centers, one in Hartford and Bridgeport. Appearance before the juvenile court the next day is required. The judge can then release or keep the teenager.
Reasons for keeping them – if they are a public safety risk, an escape risk, will they be kept for another jurisdiction. If they are “delinquent” they can be placed on probation with residential accommodation.
The biggest gap? Those charged with a crime waiting for a court date.
State Representative Steve Stafstrom, a Bridgeport Democrat, said: “You commit crimes in between; there is another arrest or two arrests or three arrests. “
The police have to apply for an arrest warrant, but the judges do not have access to the information after hours. Legislators are considering removing the six-hour rule and adding a 24/7 parole officer. A new law requires data on detention orders.
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State Representative Craig Fishbein, a Republican from Cheshire, says this has been an issue throughout the session and that is why lawmakers passed a bill that will come into effect October 1, 2021.
“The question is, are they applied for and are they? [detention orders] denied or granted, ”said Fishbein.
A Hartford mother who chose not to appear on camera tells News 8 that her son will face more accountability in custody. There he has to earn credits to use the phone. Their hard love wasn’t enough and he committed more crimes.
At a press conference on Thursday, Governor Ned Lamont was asked what he believed on the matter: “This first or second offense shouldn’t be imprisonment, but there should be consequences.”
The governor also says the leaders are also looking for better supervision in group houses.
The goal: intervention to prevent further arrests. Legislators are expected to meet again next week on juvenile justice reform.