Rep. Haines Calls for Immediate Action on Juvenile Crime Crisis

Posted on July 2, 2021


HARTFORD—State Rep. Irene Haines (R-East Haddam) joined House Republicans on July 1 in a call for immediate action on the juvenile crime crisis affecting communities throughout Connecticut, with caucus leadership requesting a special legislative session to implement long-overdue solutions.

“The uptick in preventable tragedies we have seen lately, most recently the hit-and-run in New Britain and a car theft-related shooting in Glastonbury, is unacceptable and cause for immediate action by the legislature,” said Rep. Haines. “House Republicans proposed bills and amendments throughout the session aimed at solving these issues, but by rejecting them the majority has left it up to residents and local law enforcement to handle this increasing situation on their own. More needs to be done to hold juveniles accountable for their actions, and to provide resources to get them on track. We can’t just hope that things will get better; we need to take action to protect our residents and help our police and judicial branch prevent these crimes.”

Heading into the 2021 legislative session, addressing the state’s juvenile car theft crisis was a top priority for House Republicans. The problem has grown more acute since the start of the year, including a suspect that rammed a state police cruiser in Tolland and headline-grabbing incidents where cars were stolen from their owners while young children were inside—and now, a pedestrian killed in New Britain after being struck by what police said was a stolen vehicle.

House Republicans introduced bills and amendments aimed at adding teeth to components of the state’s watered-down juvenile justice system, including concepts such as:

  • Eliminating the statutory limit of 6 hours that a juvenile can be held in detention without an order from the court;
  • Including the DCF in the investigation of family circumstances of a repeat offender charged with stealing a car or any offense involving a deadly weapon;
  • Broadening criteria for a court to deem a juvenile a risk to public safety on a second offense instead of a third;
  • Amending the model police pursuit policy to allow officers to pursue suspects stealing cars in certain circumstances; and
  • Evaluating the need for support services for the individual and/or family.

Democrats rejected many Republican measures, instead focusing on creating a misdemeanor offense aimed at adults who entice juveniles to commit criminal acts, and another that would have the Judicial Branch study the feasibility of decreasing the amount of time between the arrest of a child and the initial court appearance.

“Judging by reforms the majority focused on this session and the lack of traction we saw for our proposals, it is hard to say whether or not there will be action this summer,” said Rep. Haines. “I know our side is ready to come to the table, and I remain hopeful that we can come together and get some solutions on paper to curb further crime in our state.”

You can read more from House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora and Deputy Republican Leader and former Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Rosa Rebimbas here.