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A Republican plan punishes juvenile crime in Connecticut. Democrats worry it goes too far

Police car
Scott Davidson
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Connecticut Senate Republicans want to toughen laws around juvenile crime. Democrats say the plan would undo important advances in the justice system.

Rates of murder and other violent crime have spiked in Hartford, New Haven and some other Connecticut cities this year.

A new Republican plan calls for quicker trials in juvenile courts, 24-hour GPS monitoring and mandatory fingerprinting for all juveniles arrested for felonies, among other measures.

“We need to get our arms around these young people,” said state Senator John Kissel, the ranking Republican on the state’s judiciary committee. “It’s not all young people by any stretch of the imagination. But there is this growing group of individuals that know the system does not work, and they continue to ratchet up and take advantage of that. And we need to nip that in the bud right now.”

Republicans also said they want to roll back some parts of last year’s police accountability bill they said hamper law enforcement. Democrats said that’s a non-starter.

Senator Gary Winfield, the chair of the judiciary committee, said the plan would undo reforms and lead back to policies that unfairly targeted people of color.

“What we in effect were doing at one point was creating whole communities full of people who have been in our system. You know all the consequences of that,” he said. “I don’t think the policies that we have had in the past are smart policies and what I see us doing here is walking ourselves back to that place.”

Republicans said their plan would also address employment and housing opportunities that would serve as preventative measures against crime.

Despite recent spikes, Connecticut’s violent crime rate is still among the lowest in the nation.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.