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Bridgeport Detention Center:. Is an 88-bed Jail the Best Plan for Bridgeport’s Young People?. Fernando J. Muñiz Executive Director. About the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance.

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Bridgeport detention center

Bridgeport Detention Center:

Is an 88-bed Jail the Best Plan for Bridgeport’s Young People?

Fernando J. Muñiz

Executive Director

About the connecticut juvenile justice alliance
About the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance

The Alliance was founded in 2001 by RYASAP, the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Connecticut Voices for Children and the Tow Foundation.

Our mission is to promote a safe, effective and equitable service continuum for children and adolescents involved in, or at risk of involvement in, the juvenile justice system.

Bridgeport detention center

Overview of the System

Connecticut's juvenile justice system is a statewide system of juvenile courts, detention centers, private residential facilities and juvenile correctional facilities.

  • 13 Juvenile Courts (Superior Court, Juvenile Matters)

  • 3 Public Juvenile Detention Centers (Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven)

  • Private residential facilities

  • Community-based programs

  • Correctional facilities

Bridgeport detention center

Age of Jurisdiction

In Connecticut, delinquents are persons who, prior to their sixteenth birthdays, have violated or attempted to violate any federal or state law, order of the Superior Court, or any local or municipal ordinance.


Only Connecticut, New York and North Carolina have 15 as the upper age of jurisdiction for juvenile matters.

The other 47 states set 16 or 17 as the upper age of jurisdiction for juvenile matters.

Bridgeport detention center

Law Enforcement Response

1. Issue a warning and release the juvenile.

2. Confer with parents and release the juvenile.


3. Make a referral to a community-based organization.

4. Make a referral to formal diversion services, where available (JRB, YSB, etc.).


Decision making points in the juvenile justice system
Decision-Making Points in the Juvenile Justice System

Make an Arrest ?

Juvenile Detention ?

Adult System ?

Formal Handling ?

Adjudication ?

Disposition ?

Purpose of detention
Purpose of Detention*

  • a strong probability that the child will run away prior to court hearing or disposition,

  • a strong probability that the child will commit or attempt to commit other offenses injurious to him or to the community before court disposition,

  • probable cause to believe that the child's continued residence in his home pending disposition will not safeguard the best interests of the child or the community because of the serious and dangerous nature of the act or acts he is alleged to have committed,

  • a need to hold the child for another jurisdiction or

  • a need to hold the child to assure his appearance before the court, in view of his previous failure to respond to the court process.

In the adult system, we would call this facility a JAIL.

Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-133.

Who are the kids in detention
Who are the Kids in Detention?

  • Only 21% of children in detention are serious juvenile offenders;

  • More than 60% of children on probation or in detention are there for violating a court or take-into-custody order;

  • Almost 50% of children in detention have mental health problems;

  • 65% of the children in detention have been involved with drugs;

  • 78% of children in detention are African-American or Latino.

  • Bridgeport Juvenile Justice Task Force

    “Who are the Children in the juvenile justice system? A Snapshot of the Bridgeport Juvenile Court”, 2002

Proposed bridgeport facility
Proposed Bridgeport Facility

  • New courthouse for juvenile matters

  • 44 secure rooms – expandable to 88 beds

  • Total construction costs to exceed $55 million

Bridgeport detention center

Juvenile Arrest Rates, Ffld County

Murder Down 50.0%

Robbery Down 42.6%

Aggravated Assault Down 32.0%

Burglary Down 69.8%

Larceny/Theft Down 42.1%

Motor Vehicle Theft Down 69.0%

Arson Down 77.1%

Vandalism Down 60.6%

Weapons Down 71.0%

Drug Violations Down 48.6%

The Property Crime Index went down 51.67% from 1994 to 2001.

The Violent Crime Index went down 34.04% from 1994 to 2001.

The Total Crimes Index went down 48.5% from 1994 to 2001.

* Snyder, H., Puzzanchera, C., Kang, W. (2003) Easy Access to FBI Arrest Statistics 1994-2001 Online. Available:

We don t need 88 beds
We don’t need 88 beds!

  • According to the FBI, juvenile crime in Fairfield County has decreased nearly 50% since 1997.

  • According to OJJDP, Connecticut’s juvenile population is expected to decrease by 2% by the year 2015*

  • The current detention center has a capacity of 24 youth

  • The population in Bridgeport detention has ranged from 8 to 25 youth during 2004

  • Average length of stay and average daily population in Connecticut’s detention centers are down over the past 5 years.

OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: September 30, 1999.

Bridgeport detention center

The Common Sense Test overcrowding?

  • Run to the hardware store and buy a sump pump.

  • Try to find the source of the leak.

  • Take out a second mortgage and make the basement bigger to accommodate the inflow of water.

Expert opinion on expanding detention capacity
Expert Opinion on Expanding Detention Capacity overcrowding?

"You cannot build your way out of overcrowding. Ultimately, how many beds you need and don't need depends on policy and program choices. Connecticut is going to be doubling its detention capacity at the same time the juvenile crime rate is going down. The supposed correlation between incarceration and reducing crime is mainly a myth."

- Bart Lubow, Senior Associate,

Annie E. Casey Foundation, January 2002