Welcome 2007-2008 Legislative Breakfast
CTJJA – What Do We Believe? Statewide advocacy organization working for a safe, effective and equitable juvenile justice system in Connecticut • We believe in providing effective community based services before a child’s behavior escalates to involvement in the juvenile justice system. • When a child does enter the juvenile justice system, we support a combination of accountability and rehabilitative services whose effectiveness has been demonstrated time and time again.
CTJJA 2008 Legislative Agenda • Raised Right • Raise the Age CT (RTA CT) • Families With Service Needs (FWSN)
Raise the Age CT Connecticut is one of only three states to try all 16 and 17 year olds as adults no matter how minor their crime
Raise the Age CT • Public Act 7-4: Effective January 1, 2010, 16 and 17 –year -olds will be tried as juveniles • Aside from serious and violent offenders, youth who are up to the age of 18 when they commit a crime will be under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system.
Why The Change? • When youth are tried as adults, there are poor outcomes for youth and community. Incarcerated youth: • Receive fewer rehabilitative supports including: education, treatment and vocational training; • Are at risk of “school of crime” training, with unhealthy adult mentors.
Why The Change? • Upon Reentering the community, youth: • Are subject to increased stigma and labeling; • May have weakened ties to family and other support systems; • Will have difficulty finding and keeping a job because of their criminal record.
Raise the Age CT • The 2007 legislation brings Connecticut in line with national best practices by • Providing youth an opportunity to accept the consequences for their actions • Improving public safety • Provides access to services and rehabilitation options to youth • Lowers the chances of youth reoffending.
Currently – JJPOCC • The Juvenile Jurisdiction Planning and Oversight Coordinating Council (JJPOCC) began meeting every other week in early September • Bi-partisan, legislatively mandated group • The Council is preparing for the enactment of RTA legislation.
Currently - JJPOCC • Visit the JJPOCC website at http://www.housedems.ct.gov/jjpocc/index.html for presentations, agendas, reports and other information.
What Now? • 2008 issues from JJPOCC: • Improve court diversion and pre-trial detention practices • Phase in an effective system of services and supports for 16- and 17-year-olds • Iron out all of the technical details of the change as it will affect local and state agencies
What Do We Want? • Collaborate with JJPOCC to ensure state agencies are accountable for policy changes • Follow recommended JJPOCC statutory changes for successful implementation of legislation • Support legislation and policy that reduces the number of youth in juvenile justice system
FWSN • Since 2005, Connecticut has been taking steps to decriminalize status offenders (FWSN) • These young people aren’t criminals and have not committed crimes. • Goal: Help youth and families experiencing challenges address those issues and avoid the juvenile justice system.
FWSN Offenses • FWSN offenses include: • Truancy • Running away • Out-of-control behavior • Immoral conduct
FWSN Changes that went into effect October 1st 2007
FWSN REFERRAL PROCESS Police, Parent, School Probation Officer Return to Referral Source Sufficient Insufficient Assessment Refer to Community Based Program w/notice to referral source Refer to Family Support Center w/notice to referral source CBP: No further benefit FSC: No further benefit Probation Officer Probation Officer Withdraw complaint Assessment File petition Withdraw complaint Part II Court Process
FWSN • New services include: • Family mediation • Educational Advocacy • Mentoring • Crisis Intervention • Full spectrum of community based services such as IICAPS and MST. • Family Support Centers can also refer to respite beds in the state.
COURT PROCESS Case goes to court Judge Judge refers to community based services or other program prior to adjudication – continues case for 6 months If all goes well case is dismissed and erased. Or The child can be adjudicated FWSN There can be a finding of imminent risk
COURT PROCESS • Dispositional options if a FWSN is adjudicated: • Refer the family for voluntary services • Place the child on supervision (probation) • Commit the child to DCF – if found to be the least restrictive alternative.
VIOLATION OF COURT ORDER • Probation officer files petition Hearing • Violation found Determine least restrictive available alternative such as: • Child to stay at home • Under supervision of probation officer • Last resort: Staff secure CSSD facility or committed to DCF
IMMINENT RISK Petition filed alleging imminent physical harm • Findings - Based on petition allegations and other verified affirmations: • child is in imminent risk of physical harm from surroundings • as a result, the child’s safety is endangered and immediate removal is necessary • no less restrictive alternative is available Child placed in staff secure CSSD facility Hearing w/in 24 hrs exc weekends & holidays Released If not released, child may not be held >45 days w/court review every 15 days At the end of 45 days Release to community for services Commit the child to DCF <18 months
Current FWSN • FWSN Advisory Board • Visit http://www.cga.ct.gov/kid/fwsn/fwsn.aspfor further information • Official recommendations coming soon
What Do We Want? • Broad community education about new process and philosophy • Follow recommendations of FWSN Advisory Board (released soon) • Truancy reduction efforts (cause of 50% FWSN referrals) • Necessary Funding: • Authorize State Department of Education budget request for truancy reduction programs • Fund additional DCF FWSN liaisons • Fund 6 additional Family Support Centers
What You Can Do: • Stay involved! Our work is far from over. Your role is just as important and your voice just as strong this year. • Educate yourself, your friends and your family to use the power of your voices and votes. • Raise The Age: • Communicate with legislators regarding need for timely and effective RTA legislation • FWSN: • Persuade legislators to fund Family Support Centers, etc. • Join CTJJA listservs and mailing lists, attend meetings • Advocate for prevention and early intervention through quality, available children’s mental health services and efforts to shut down the school to prison pipeline