Legislators agree to renewed meeting on juvenile delinquency | State news


HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) – A bipartisan group of Connecticut lawmakers agreed on Wednesday to continue working together to potentially amend some state laws and policies to combat a range of car thefts and other crimes committed by repeat offenders among teenagers.

House spokesman Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, stressed his lack of support for sweeping changes to the state’s juvenile justice laws, noting that Connecticut has successfully reduced its arrest and detention rates. He acknowledged, however, that there are some things that lawmakers “can improve and improve”.

“We have homework to do. But at the end of the day, I think everyone in this room felt like we could get there, ”said Ritter after a closed meeting with the GOP legislators.

Earlier this morning, Republican lawmakers signed petitions to call the General Assembly back into a special session. At a press conference flanked by local GOP city guides and New Britain and Wolcott Police Chiefs, lawmakers proposed lifting the current six-hour deadline for detaining certain youths without a court order and requiring the courts to electronically target repeat offenders monitor until their criminal case is settled among other things.

After the bipartisan meeting, Ritter suggested that the Democrats could be open to making the six-hour limit, passed in 2018 and bound by federal law, more flexible. He also raised the issue of judges not having access to criminal records outside of business hours when asked to order the detention of a juvenile.

“We looked around and said, ‘If I were a judge, I would want to know this, I would want to know this story if I want to make a decision about it,'” said Ritter.

New UK Police Chief Chris Chute said “public confidence” in the criminal justice system needs to be restored. He acknowledged that it is a small number of repeat offenders who are the problem, but they have “gotten brave enough to post on social media about driving around in stolen cars” and “bragging about the robberies they are doing they do”. commit again and the attacks they commit. “

“They don’t try to hide their behavior. And when we arrest them, they laugh at us because they know exactly what’s going to happen – nothing. We will release them immediately, “he said during the press conference.

A 17-year-old with 13 previous arrests was recently charged with the fatal hit and run of a 53-year-old marathon runner in New Britain with a stolen vehicle. Over the past four years, the teen had been arrested on a variety of charges, including assault with a knife, assault, robbery, reckless driving, theft and possession of narcotics.

Democrats claim past legislative reforms are not responsible for the current surge in juvenile delinquency. But Republicans claim that past legislative reforms have made it harder to hold repeat offenders accountable, making voters very concerned about what they see on the ground.

Chute said his department has seen increasing numbers of homeowners and business owners “taking matters into their own hands”. He said they “are facing the youth now. They are attacking them and trying to hold them down until we show up. In some cases they are chasing them. That’s not what we need. Society shouldn’t be like this.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, released a statement on Wednesday accusing GOP lawmakers of using the “tragic and painful event” in New Britain to try to gain political points over a failed to advance overly punitive policies from the 80s and 90s. “

He said Republicans “lost all public safety credibility” when they “remained silent about the US Capitol uprising” and opposed funding for urban gun violence prevention programs and other urban aid initiatives.

Rep. Steve Strafstrom, D-Bridgeport, co-chair of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said lawmakers plan to speak to the judiciary, public defenders, prosecutors and others to discuss the policy implications of any of the proposed legislative changes.

“As is so often the case with these topics, they are technical, they are complex,” he said. “There are both political considerations and practical considerations on how to actually implement some of the ideas that have been talked about.”

The group hopes to meet again next week.

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