Connecticut’s juvenile court caseloads dropped by a third in the past four years as prevention and early intervention paid off. A report released by the National Juvenile Justice Network and the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, Turning It Around: Successes and Opportunities in Juvenile Justice, shows how Connecticut’s system has improved since 1993, when it was so bad a federal judge had to step in to protect kids in detention.
While the turnaround began with a successful lawsuit, the state increasingly bought into the changes advocates were demanding. There was a desire to address the root causes of delinquency and far better collaboration within state agencies to serve youth. Advocates, while still holding the state accountable, were often able to act as partners in change.
The report is getting a lot of attention. For one thing, people are surprised that advocacy groups are praising the juvenile justice system we are so committed to reforming. This legislative session, the Alliance is fighting to end Connecticut’s practice of automatically prosecuting 16-year-olds as adults. We’re also pushing the state to keep its promise to open more Family Support Centers, the one-stop service portals that are helping to shrink the system now by preventing delinquency.
The best case for future reform is the success of past reform. Turning It Around illustrates that providing kids with the services they need prevents delinquency. That’s better for youth, and it’s better for taxpayers. We hope that encourages policymakers to keep investing in juvenile justice.
The full report is available at www.ctjja.org.
Abby Anderson is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance.
Updated: February 08 2018