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Connecticut Justice Alliance urges for alternatives to youth incarceration

Some drops in prison populations were offset by increases at local jails, especially in rural areas.
David Madison
Getty Images
A prison yard is enclosed by a chain link fence and barbed wire.

The Connecticut Justice Alliance (CTJA) is calling on the state legislature to fund alternatives to youth incarceration.

The advocacy group asked the legislature to support House Bill 6888, which would further fund the Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee, develop a youth reentry success plan and more.

CTJA’s Executive Director Christina Quaranta said the change is overdue.

“The young people in Connecticut cannot afford for us to throw up our hands and say we are done,” Quaranta said. “We must continue to address root causes of youth crime, and ask ourselves, are our policies about safety and security, or power and control.”

CTJA rejected House Bill 6889, which they say would allow children to be tried as adults and incarcerated in adult prisons.

State Representative Anthony Nolan, D-New London, is a police officer. He said his positions give him a unique view of multiple sides of the youth criminal justice issue.

“We watch people say we want to help youth, but we take too long to help them,” Nolan said. “And it's imperative that we stand on our morals and say, let's change the system like the system needs to be changed.”

According to the CTJA, Black children are only 12% of Connecticut's youth population but account for more than 40% of the incarcerated youth population.

The Alliance called on the legislature to help Black kids the way they have been able to help white kids.

“It's known that white youth commit crimes at the same rate as their peers,” Quaranta said. “Connecticut's figured out how to help white children. But what about kids that look like me?”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.