GLASTONBURY, Conn. (WTNH) – Governor Ned Lamont is holding a news conference on Tuesday to discuss the new state law addressing motor vehicle theft.
The bill, which was passed in the House and the Senate, enables law enforcement and courts to provide swifter, more effective responses to youth charged with repeated motor vehicle thefts.
State legislators, law enforcement representatives, and other officials will join Lamont during the news conference.
The state’s juvenile justice crime bill is being touted tonight. It seems like all we talked about for months were cars being stolen or broken into and groups of teens escaping police.
Lawmakers found a compromise and passed a juvenile justice crime bill. It provides new resources and aims to address the problem faster. The governor signed it on May 27th.
But no photo or video was taken to acknowledge the signing of such a significant law.
Until today’s press conference. Safe Streets Advocates, Police Chiefs, lawmakers, and the Lamont Administration celebrate the Juvenile Justice Crime Bill.
John Perriello from Safe Streets CT said, “We’re disappointed that it took this long.”
Safe Streets CT rallied at the capitol a number of times over the last year. A grassroots group of residents affected by car thefts and juvenile crime.
State Representative Jill Barry at times the only Democrat standing with Republicans.
“Our community was shaken and our safety threatened,” said State Rep. Jill Barry.
State Rep. Devin Carney a Republican from Old Lyme explains how the bill’s goal is to help people feel safer and give repeat offenders an opportunity to turn their lives around.
“Sentence them or get them the help they need appropriately and swiftly will really make a difference.”
The bill signed into law back in May updates juvenile justice reforms already on the books.
From faster court appearances, within 5-days of an arrest, to sharing of criminal records among police departments and court systems, to electronic monitoring bracelets for repeat offenders.
Chief Marshall Porter from the Glastonbury Police Department says regional car theft task forces are also making a difference.
“It’s dangerous work. They’re taking a lot of stolen cars off the street. They’re taking a lot of guns off the street.” The new law is a start to breaking the cycle of repeat juvenile offenders..
Chief Fernando Spagnolo from the Waterbury Police Department says the new law is starting to break the cycle of repeat juvenile offenders.
“It’s worked in some cases. It hasn’t worked in others. But this bill is going to certainly bring that to a new level.”
For the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus the issue of juvenile justice is a complicated issue. The biggest sticking point; is GPS monitoring bracelets.
“They believed that that was a sign of cruelty and a bridge too far and may have been the single one reason why they didn’t vote for this bill,” said State Rep. Gerry Reyes the caucus Chair from Waterbury.
He also says the BPRC is not anti-police. But they have a constituency of black and brown kids to protect.
The new law has $ 3 million dedicated to diversionary programs for repeat offenders.
John Perriello from Safe Streets CT agrees with some lawmakers accountability on where the money goes matters.
“We’d like to see the diversionary programs that are already in place evaluated for their effectiveness in the effective ones expanded and the programs that aren’t that effective, defunded.”
There is $11 million for law enforcement and judicial programs and $7 million for a gun theft task force.
The department of Children and Families and other state agencies are expected to report back to the legislature about whether those programs are working.
CTJA Policy Director Iliana Pujos issued the following statement calling the governor’s celebration misguided:
“Several law enforcement officials at Gov. Lamont’s press conference today remarked that car thefts are on the decline. The passage of the bill touted by the governor and others had no impact on those declining numbers. Tracking, arresting, and involving more children in the judicial system only increases adverse outcomes. We need to be addressing the root causes of the problems in our communities. “
Stay tuned to News 8 for updates on this story.