Rep. O’Dea: HB 5417 Improves Juvenile Justice Laws But We Must Do More

Posted on April 30, 2022


HARTFORD—In a Republican-driven effort state Rep. Tom O’Dea (R-125) 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.

“It is encouraging to see that the legislature decided to take action to curb the increases in juvenile crime affecting cities and towns in every corner of Connecticut,” Rep. O’Dea said. “We know that this issue will not be solved in full by this bill, but it is a good step in the right direction.”

Last summer, Republicans—and the public—increased pleas for reform 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, Rep. O’Dea joined 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;

“I believe that we will return to the House chamber next session to further debate this topic,” Rep. O’Dea said. “Republicans will continue to propose comprehensive solutions to address this threat to public safety and be receptive to the concerns of residents in our districts.”

The bill awaits action in the state senate.