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Milford Legislators Help Pass Juvenile Justice Bill, With More Work to be Done

Posted on April 29, 2022


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HARTFORD—In a year-long Republican-driven effort, state Reps. Kathy Kennedy (R-119) and Charles Ferraro (R-117) on Thursday supported compromise legislation aimed at curbing Connecticut’s juvenile crime crisis, laying a foundation for more work on improving public safety in communities where residents say they’ve felt threatened by a shocking escalation in the seriousness of crimes committed by young people.

“This legislation is a good first step in curbing our juvenile crime crisis, but it is not the cure for the problem,” Rep. Kennedy said.  The bill addresses some of the critical challenges law enforcement face when attempting to solve a crime and invests in community-based programs to reduce recidivism.”

Last summer, Republicans—and the public—increased calls for action after a New Britain resident out for a jog was killed by a teenager driving a stolen vehicle. That tragedy occurred on the heels of many other headline-grabbing crimes, including youths who rammed a police cruiser in Tolland and a teenager in Hartford who was arrested twice in two different stolen cars within five hours. In the ensuing months many other crimes committed by teenagers shocked residents, from break-ins to carjackings.

Among the provisions of H.B. 5417 are:

  • Allows officers to access the past 90 days of juvenile records at the point of stop;
  • Requires arraignments within 5 days and screening/assessment for services within 2 weeks of arraignment;
  • Expands the 6-hour hold limit by two hours when an officer is in process on a detention order or attempting to make contact with a parent/guardian;
  • Requires judges to articulate the reason for denying an application for detention within 48 hours;

The legislation passed through House in a 129 to 17 vote.

During the House of Representatives debate, the Milford lawmakers joined fellow Republicans in contending that the bill could have done more.

Among Republican proposals that were not included in the legislation:

  • Require juvenile matters be adjudicated in the GA where the offense occurred;
  • Expanded automatic transfer to adult court for all serious juvenile offenses;
  • Prohibited auto insurance carriers from canceling a policy solely because a policyholder’s car was stolen;
  • Require next-day arraignments and immediate assessment for services;

Rep. Ferraro said, “I am glad that we were able to take some bipartisan action to curb the increase of juvenile crime in our communities, but we must do more. I have confidence that we will continue to debate this issue and find more comprehensive solutions with more serious deterrents and consequences for these offenses.”

The bill awaits action in the State Senate.

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