HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut lawmakers closed out the 2022 legislative session Wednesday night after passing juvenile crime reforms.
The state Senate passed the juvenile justice crime bill that aims to crack down on juvenile crime, especially repeat offenders. It now heads to the governor’s desk for approval.
The bill passed with bipartisan support 35 to 1, with Democratic Sen. Dennis Bradley from Bridgeport voting no.
Democrats say they want to rehabilitate, not incarcerate, while Republicans had wanted more wrap-around services to get to the root cause of why kids are behaving badly.
State Sen. Kevin Kelly, the Republican Senate Minority Leader, explains, “When you listen to your neighbors and constituents, they’re all telling us that they don’t feel safe because there’s too much crime.”
Here’s what’s in the juvenile justice crime bill:
- If a teen is arrested, they must go before a judge within 5-days.
- GPS monitoring bracelets can be ordered by a judge for repeat offenders.
- Sentencing guidelines are increased to 5 years in prison for serious sexual assault.
- The bill expands existing law to include other “serious offenses” like murder and firearm crimes.
- There’s an expansion of Diversionary Programs.
- Teens can be locked up for an 8-hour maximum while they await a ruling on a detention order.
- There are new stricter penalties for motor vehicle thefts and carjackings.
- There is more access to case records.
This is compromise leaders are satisfied with. They also acknowledge there may be a spike this summer.
“We get it when the weather gets hotter and the school’s out,” State Rep. and House Speaker Matt Ritter said. “But I know that in talking to the governor, he met with a couple of police chiefs, and they were pretty satisfied with the change.”
Prosecutors and police can ask for teens to be placed in a detention center. If the judge says yes, the teen goes to court the next day. If the judge declines the order, he or she must say in writing why within 48 hours of a decision.
“[The bill] moves the needle in the right direction,” Kelly said. “So, I think there’s going to be some support. I don’t think, however, this fixes the issue of crime in the state of Connecticut.”
“Parents are going to have to figure out how do they adjust to the fact that their kids may be the children who have committed crimes,” said Sen. Gary Winfield, the Democratic co-chair of the Judiciary Committee. “They may be in the system, and we all know that increases the likelihood that they’ll be in the system again.”
The governor is expected to sign the bill.