Connecticut juvenile law seeks new justice for offenders
One of the significant outcomes the American criminal justice system seeks is to protect the victims of crimes and to rehabilitate offenders. Unfortunately, that goal does not always reach the thousands of juveniles accused of serious crimes every year. Many times, their first and only offense results in them being sentenced to prison for the rest of their lives despite the fact that they were minors when accused.
State and federal officials have scrutinized the Criminal law as it relates to juveniles in recent years, and now Connecticut is doing the same and taking action.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must review cases where juvenile offenders have been sentenced to life in prison. The ruling does not say that these offenders should be automatically released, the Supreme Court did say that it is unconstitutional for states to imprison juveniles without the possibility of release.
As a result of this ruling, Connecticut prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials, and defense attorneys are proposing changes to the state juvenile criminal code. Their proposal is scheduled to be introduced to the state House of Representatives after having made its way through the legislative judiciary committee.
Opponents of the bill remain skeptical of reconsidering life sentences for juvenile offenders; however, proponents point out the bill does not automatically overturn sentences or release offenders. Rather, it encourages a review of each case with an eye toward the possibility of rehabilitation and release.
The bill passed the House but was not taken up by the Senate where similar bills have also been introduced.
Connecticut setting the bar for juvenile justice system
Existing criminal laws are often based on the traditional thinking that a criminal should be punished in proportion to the severity of the crime they committed. While this notion may be effective in some cases, new evidence suggests that there are better methods that offer more success when dealing with juvenile crime. A recent study highlights the impressive progress Connecticut is making in cutting juvenile crime and imprisonment rates.
The state has taken several steps in the last several years to modernize and improve its juvenile criminal law system. One of the first steps take by the states general assembly was to make 18 the age at which juvenile offenders can be prosecuted as adults. Previously, before 2007, 16 and 17-year-olds could be tried as adults. The legislature significantly increased state funding for adolescent and family programs, and this increase happened in conjunction with a steep decline in the number of juveniles in adult facilities. They also reduced the number of juvenile detention facilities by one third.
The recent study by the Justice Policy Institute confirms these changes resulted in positive outcomes in the juvenile law system. It reports that incidents of juvenile violence and crime experienced a sharp drop, noting that the state’s emphasis on treatment programs instead of imprisonment in addressing juvenile crime contributed greatly to the decline.
Supporters of these measures argue that Connecticut’s progress provides an example of how other states can benefit from similar changes to their own juvenile justice systems. They point out that such legislative reforms may not even affect state budgets.
These findings offer an extremely encouraging outlook in that they offer a practical and positive alternative to imprisoning juveniles.
Ex-offenders, victims debate juvenile parole
Juvenile offenders often face sentencing as severe as that faced by adult offenders, meaning that a “guilty” verdict can result serious fines and incarceration that are significant enough to derail a young person’s life before they reach adulthood.
Some Connecticut officials are now reconsidering the state’s harshest punishments for juvenile offenders, paying special attention to the argument some ex-offenders are making for early parole. If the legislature approves and enacts these measures, those imprisoned for juvenile crime would have a chance to put their criminal past behind them and have a chance to restart their lives.
This idea became the subject of a heated debate in 2012 after a Norwich man who lost two loved ones to a teenager in a double homicide tried to persuade the Connecticut Sentencing Commission that early probation measures would deprive the victims and their families of justice.
The United States Supreme Court ruled that juvenile offenders cannot receive punishment as severe as that handed down to adults. Despite this ruling, current laws in Connecticut rule out parole for some juvenile offenders. Proponents of early parole for juvenile offenders under the age of 18 cite the Supreme Court’s ruling as the reason for changing the state’s approach to juvenile incarceration.
While the early parole debate in Connecticut is shifting toward more comprehensive approaches to juvenile crime and punishment, strict sentencing is still the standard practice for juveniles convicted of criminal offenses. This is why working with a strong juvenile defense lawyer is so important, allowing the defendant to build a strong case toward achieving a “not guilty” verdict and avoiding the need for parole at all.
Minor offenses have serious ramifications for Connecticut kids
Connecticut families and those throughout the nation send their kids off to school to face a much different world than existed even a decade ago. Parents can no longer afford to be ignorant of the fact that schools are not the safe havens they once believed them to be, nor can they assume they or their children are safe from random acts of violence. Parents must now be especially vigilant toward preventing crimes before they occur. While most people agree schools must strictly enforce zero-tolerance policies toward guns and other weapons on campuses, individual cases of kids being punished for their mistakes may reflect greater fears and insecurities than actual intentions to commit crimes.
As a result. the field of juvenile criminal defense may have changed forever as a result of the difficulty in protecting a child’s innocence until they are proven guilty of a crime under the law. The lives of two high school students many have been changed as a result of their recent involvement in a school incident. The pair were recently arrested and suspended from school and are now facing accusations of reckless endangerment as a result of them allegedly bringing guns on campus.
The weapons in question turned out to be pellet guns the boys may have been playing with in the school’s parking lot. While policies protecting students must continue to be evaluated and enforced, when dealing with juvenile suspects, school administrators, parents, and law enforcement must also protect the rights of potential suspects along with those of other children.
Stamford teen faces several charges after attempted robbery
Life can appear confusing to a teenager, resulting in a state of limbo. While they are no longer a small child, they are not yet quite an adult. Lacking adult life experience, they often act without thinking about potential consequences, leading them to trouble they did not consider when they make the wrong choices. The juvenile justice system is filled with young people struggling to find their identities while trying to fight addiction and the influence of others who may not have their best interests in mind.
A 17-year-old Stamford teen was arrested and faced several criminal charges after an alleged botched robbery attempt. The charges included possession of a deadly weapon, first-degree conspiracy to commit a robbery, and first-degree criminal attempted robbery. While it is unknown what authorities found that lead them to the teen, their investigation prompted them to place him in police custody.
Information about the incident is sketchy and was not immediately reported to law enforcement. According to the report, a person was chased out of a Springdale liquor store after shooting a gun inside. The report did not indicate whether the suspect was wearing a mask, made any demands, or made threats against the clerk. The report states that the store owner believed the incident was a joke, but nothing was said as to what made them or law enforcement change their minds.
A good juvenile defense attorney may be able to prove there is nothing to tie a suspect to a crime in cases where nothing was taken and there is no real evidence at the scene.
Contact a Juvenile Law Attorney in Fairfield County
We have extensive experience representing clients in Connecticut Juvenile Law. We can help you build a defense to the charges you face.