youth crime

Lawmakers, Advocates Scratch Their Heads Over Lamont's Comments On Youth Crime

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Gov. Ned Lamont stood on the steps of the Capitol with the family of a dead 14-year-old and pledged to curb crime, but what exactly was he proposing? 

“I am not sure what exactly the message is,” Sen. Gary Winfield, the co-chair of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, says. 

The press conference Lamont had with the family left lawmakers and advocates scratching their heads. 

“I don’t think arresting them all -  simply putting them in jail is going to solve the problem because the things that cause them to be in that space we haven’t dealt with,” Winfield says. 

Lamont stood with Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella and the family of the 14-year-old. He walked away without taking any questions. 

State police have identified 14-year-old from Hamden who died after being shot and dropped off at St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury.

NBC Connecticut caught up with the governor Friday to see if we could get a better answer. 

“We’re hiring more judges, more community policing, we’re hiring more police, and doing everything we can to help those kids get on the straight and narrow as well,” Lamont says. 

But what does he plan to do?

“When it comes to judges, when it comes to police, when it comes to the social service supports we’re already doing that so I think that’s taken care of,” Lamont says. 

Republican lawmakers have been raising this issue for months. 

“I think what the governor’s remarks amount to his finger-pointing. Let’s blame the police officers. Let’s blame the judges when in fact it was the Democrats and policies he signed into law that have created this problem,” House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, says. 

But how can Lamont fix the problem?

“Short of calling us into session I’m not sure how he would get those reforms accomplished.” 

But advocates say they need to focus on why youth are turning to crime. 

“Gun violence is a crazy issue for us in our communities,” Jordyn Wilson with the Connecticut Justice Alliance, says. “Car theft is a major issue going on for us in our community right now. And we’re not saying young people shouldn’t be held accountable. But we should intentionally take a look at what’s happening for these kids to be having rap sheets the length of your arm.” 

Wilson says they need to stop talking and start doing something. 

“We really need to start investing in our kids and investing in the services that we know work. When we know incarceration does not. When we know punitive measures do not,” Wilson says. 

Lamont says he’s not calling lawmakers back into special session. 

“But I’m going to sit down with legislative leadership and see what else they think would make a difference in these kids' lives,” Lamont says.

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