By Salvador Solorio
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says the state’s juvenile justice system has been transformed and it’s time for the nation to return to its roots as a “second chance society.”
“If you’re not a Native American, or your people were not brought here in slavery, everyone came here for a second chance, or a third or fifth chance,” Malloy said in a keynote speech at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
In America’s current political climate, the approaches to criminal justice are more inclined toward punishment than rehabilitation. America has “turned its back” on the concept of providing second chances, according to a June 14 story in The Crime Report.
Malloy also spoke at a symposium on “Children and the Law.” He addressed some of the nation’s top professionals, law enforcement and activists lobbying for juvenile justice reform. “No one should go to jail simply because we have lost patience,” he said.
The number of incarcerated young people dropped by nearly half to 36,000 in the last decade, but serious problems remain, according to reporters Alice Popovici and Isidoro Rodriguez of The Crime Report.
“News stories about children dying in jail or suffering psychological damage from incarceration cause concern, and people should be asking why kids are in prison in the first place,” said Jody Kent Lavy, director of the Campaign for Sentencing Youth.
“Most of our resources should be used for the vast majority of kids who don’t pose a risk to public safety,” said Liz Ryan, president of Youth First!, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.
Connecticut reduced its juvenile detention population by increasing the age at which young people are diverted to adult courts rather than school-based diversion programs. The state has recorded one of the largest decreases in violent crime rates of any state in the nation, said Gov. Malloy. He also wants to raise the current adult jurisdiction from 17 to 20, to create a “youth justice” category.
The governor also admitted that implementing juvenile justice and criminal reforms oriented to giving a “second chance” can strain budgets when the country is hampered by a “permanent slow-growth environment.”