2019 Legislative Session Priorities
Fully fund and implement prior reforms
Truancy and defiance of school rules were removed from the court, but dollars to serve those youth and families were absorbed into the general fund, closing programs and leaving schools and community providers without ways to provide supports.
The state closed CJTS - its juvenile prison for boys - without providing adequate funds for the Judicial Branch to develop the full scope of different facilities, programs, and supports for these youth and their families.
A detailed breakdown of the state’s recent divestment from community services and juvenile justice diversion plans can be found here.
Ensure there is a menu of programs, services, and supports that meet the needs of youth, families, and communities
This includes prevention and early intervention, community-based programs, and out-of-home programs. Any out-of-home programs, locked or unlocked, must be small, therapeutic, and home-like.
Improve coordination, collaboration, and blended funding across agencies and municipalities
The state must incentivize and make it easier for agencies and municipalities to collaborate and coordinate to serve youth and families. There are too many barriers and challenges keeping people from getting the services they need because they came into the system through the wrong door or agency (i.e. education, mental health, substance abuse, housing).
Prioritize youth, family, and community voices
Youth, family, and community experiences and expertise must be meaningfully included at every decision-making table. This includes new committees or task forces created as well as updating groups created in the past.
Remove youth under 18 from adult correctional environments pre- and post-trial
Address inhumane conditions of confinement for youth
Until youth can be removed from adult facilities, conditions must be improved. Youth incarcerated in the adult system must not be put in solitary confinement (or kept isolated in their cells without programs or services for more than 4 hours at a time - no matter what that isolation is called). No youth, in any program or facility, run by any state or contracted agency, should be subject to chemical restraint.
A highly detailed, comprehensive review of juvenile confinement in Connecticut was presented by the Office of the Child Advocate in their 2019 report, available here.