Targeting offenders between the ages of 18 to 21, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is proposing legislation that aims to be proactive in preventing youths from becoming career criminals into adulthood, according to a press release.
The bill was introduced in the wake of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and incorporates suggestions submitted by prosecutors, judges, public defenders, advocates, and others during Connecticut’s 2016 legislative session.
Additionally, it also contains elements of a recent report written by Lael Chester and Vincent Schiraldi of Harvard Kennedy School, that was submitted to the legislature’s Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee, the release said.
Under this youthful offender status, defendants will:
- Remain a “youthful offender” unless and until the accused chooses not to avail themselves of this option or until a court makes a determination denying use of youthful offender status on a case-by-case basis;
- Not have his or her name released publicly unless and until court determines that the case should be handled under traditional adult court rules;
- Have the option to plead guilty to the charge of being a “youthful offender” instead of to the original charge;
- Have a limited period of incarceration of no more than four years;
- Have police and court records automatically erased, provided that the offender completes his or her sentence and does not reoffend four years after sentencing as a youthful offender; and
- Have court proceedings that are open to the public, while arrest records and other records relating to the proceeding remain confidential.
The state’s youthful offender status does not apply to the most serious crimes, including Class A felonies; and motor vehicle crimes will also remain in adult court.
The “young adults” category would be be phased in over time if approved by the General Assembly, beginning with adjusting the age of the juvenile justice system’s jurisdiction through age 18 on July 1, 2018; through age 19 on July 1, 2019; and through age 20 on July 1, 2020.
“We know for a fact that the longer we keep young people out of the adult criminal justice system, the less likely they are to commit crimes and become incarcerated as adults,” Malloy said in a statement.
“Our prisons cannot serve as crime schools. We cannot take a one-size-fits-all attitude to corrections in which we treat a low-risk young adult the same way we treat a career criminal and expect to reduce crime at the same time. Crime is down in Connecticut to a fifty-year low, dropping faster here than in almost any other state, and it is because we are taking smart approaches to make Connecticut safer. Through strategies like these, which have been endorsed by Republicans and Democrats in a number of states – both red and blue – across our country, we can stop the cycle of crime.”