A Grown-Up Approach to Juvenile Justice Reform

Connecticut’s juvenile justice system has seen tremendous reform in the past 10 years. As a new report by the Justice Policy Institute points out, we’ve diverted kids from the juvenile system, provided better services for those inside it and kept kids out of the adult system. These reforms have been accompanied by a declining youth crime rate and a decreasing burden on taxpayers. So many people deserve credit for these advances, including enlightened public officials, inspired funders and tenacious advocates. But what made them so successful?

Connecticut Gets A+ in Reducing School Arrests

In Connecticut, you need a good reason to arrest a kid. That shouldn’t be any big surprise. But to advocates who’ve witnessed decades of increases in school-based arrests for things like dress code violations and running in the hallway, it’s huge. Connecticut’s judicial branch is now rejecting delinquency summonses and status offender complaints unless “the facts, if true, would be sufficient to be a juvenile matter, and whether the interests of the public or the child require that further action be taken …” If Judicial’s Court Supportive Service Division [juvenile probation officers] rejects an arrest, the arresting officer and the youth’s parents will receive a letter informing them of services in the community that could more appropriately address the problem behavior. The credit for this enlightened policy goes largely to Court Supportive Service Division Executive Director William Carbone, who has been a champion of good, evidence-based programming throughout his tenure.