HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Despite calls from some lawmakers, this special session will not address the growing issue of juvenile crime.
The Safe Streets group held a rally Monday afternoon outside the Capitol in Hartford asking for a special session to address juvenile crime. This after half-a-dozen broad daylight carjackings in the Greater Hartford area. They want consequences on top of rehabilitation for juveniles.
To look beyond the headline of the story of crime in the suburbs, we wanted to find out what has changed in the juvenile system.
Under Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration, lawmakers raised the juvenile age from 16 to 18, allowing juveniles to stay in the juvenile system longer. They also lowered the maximum juvenile sentence from 36 months to 18 months.
The biggest problem, according to State Representative Pat Callahan – who was in the Probation Department for more than 20 years – is that juveniles are being released from the court system and not being held so they return to the streets to commit more crimes.
Rep. Pat Callahan (R – Danbury) explained, “If someone violated probation for a serious offense and they go to court and come back and nothing happens to them, word spreads like wildfire on the street that there’s not going to be any consequences for what you do. And that’s where are now in Connecticut.”
Rep. Callahan, who has had two cars stolen, says not only do there need to be repercussions, but also a holistic approach with social services.
Callahan: “To a lot of these kids, I have written and read thousands of investigations and that first paragraph tells the story: a broken family, abuse, no one supervising these kids. We need to bring the parents more into the picture, maybe get the Department of Children and Families (DCF) involved, which is one of the things were suggesting.”
Also, one of the things most people don’t realize is from the time the police officer picks up the juvenile, they have six hours to make their case and arrest or they have to let the juvenile go back out onto the streets. Six hours in the middle of the night is very difficult because you have to get all the parties on board and cooperating.
State Representative Greg Howard (R-Stonington) explained, “To figure out everything… you catch them, get them into the police station, try to figure out their parental situation, try to get the background information, and try and determine if they should be released or held onto. It sounds like a lot of time – six hours – but in reality, it’s not.
And Rep. Howard says the anti-police settlement over the last year has also taken its toll.
“Police departments all across Connecticut are taking a fire department response where we will come when you call us because that’s what they have been told to do by society over the last year, by this legislature just over a year ago,” Howard said. “So that’s what they are doing so there’s nobody out stopping cars and looking at things to go ‘boo’ in the night.”
And keep in mind, the juvenile system is closed to the public because offenders are underage. So that means no one really knows what happens except the judge, the prosecutor, the parents, and the juvenile offender when they go to court. People say it’s not an open system so you don’t know exactly what penalties are being handed out.