Juvenile Justice Reforms Approved by Legislature

May 11, 2022

Connecticut remains one of the safest states in the nation, but like many states we have experienced an uptick in juvenile criminal activity driven in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Democrats led discussions with our Republican colleagues to develop reforms that will help address this recent spike, resulting in legislative passage this session of House Bill 5417.

The legislation was a product of our bipartisan discussions and makes reasonable changes to our state's existing criminal justice statutes to address some of the challenges law enforcement officers often face when investigating a crime and improves outcomes for those who find themselves in trouble.

Justice Reform

These changes include a training program for police officers on when to apply for and issue a detention order, require judges who decline a detention order to articulate why the order was declined, and redefine car theft in Connecticut. Specifically, this bill:

  1. Speeds up juvenile arraignments within the Judicial Branch.
  2. Permits GPS monitoring for repeat juvenile offenders.
  3. Extends the 6-hour hold if an arresting officer is in the process of seeking a detention order.
  4. Treats car theft uniformly, punishing it by the number of offenses instead of the value of a car stolen.
  5. Requires local police to be notified when applicants for gun permits do not pass background checks.

House Democrats stood in firm opposition to Republican efforts to permit the indiscriminate transfer of juveniles to adult court and reopen a centralized juvenile jail. There is a trove of data that demonstrates these approaches to crime have far reaching and long-term detrimental impacts. As we work to address juvenile crime in our state, we cannot fall back on the reactionary measures of our past.

This bill is smart on crime and takes steps to make our state safer for all. Crime in Connecticut is at near decades-long lows because of the proactive reforms we've enacted in recent years, and this juvenile justice legislation builds upon those efforts.