HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Justice Alliance (CTJA) is asking lawmakers to invest in the state’s youth by finding alternatives to incarceration.
During a press conference Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, CTJA raised concerns over the state’s judiciary system.
“The young people in Connecticut cannot afford for us to throw our hands in the air and say we’re done,” CTJA’s Executive Director Christina Quarantathe said.
The group supports House Bill 6888, one of many pieces of legislation discussed by the judiciary committee. The legislation would implement juvenile justice policy changes, including funding stipends for members of an oversight committee, moving those under 18 years old from the care and custody of the Department of Corrections, and expanding options for youth to provide options beyond incarceration
“We have a system that does not do enough in diversion for our kids, and we need to expand it to make sure that there are many opportunities for our kids out there, a different avenue than going to court and getting trapped in a system,” State Rep. Anthony Nolan (D-New London) said.
The CTJA voiced opposition to HB 6889. This legislation would include mandatory fingerprinting of youth arrested for certain offenses and limit a child’s release to a parent who lacks control over a child. The group believes this bill is focused on punishment rather than alternatives.
“If anybody thinks the solution is by sending more children to the adult criminal justice system, I can tell you, based on personal experience, you will get the opposite of the intended result,” said Mike Lawlor, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven.
The CTJA says that finding alternatives for youth will solve issues of youth incarceration at the root of the problem.