Raising Juvenile Age Stalls in Senate

Governor Dannel Malloy's Second Chance 2.0 initiative to raise the age of a juvenile has hit a snag in the state Senate.

Debate on the issue was delayed and now it's unclear whether the issue will come up for a vote at all before the midnight deadline Wednesday.

The House approved the measure in April.

“What we’re trying to do is align the law with the new knowledge that we have, so those of us who are supportive of Second Chance, raise the age, think this is the proper way for the state to move forward," said Sen. Gary Winfield.

The bill would make Connecticut the first state in the country to raise the age of a minor from 17 to 20 in one-year steps by 2019.

Winfield agrees with the governor's proposal, which is based on recent research completed in Europe and the United States that showed that human brain doesn't fully develop until age 25.

Winfield contends that shows many people who commit crimes, may not quite understand both their actions and potential consequences.

“I think at its core what we’ve been trying to deal with is young people that might do some foolish things don’t find themselves in our system," Winfield said.

Opponents, like minority leader Sen. Len Fasano, said there are many circumstances where even 17-year-olds need to be prosecuted as adults. He also said the current system leaves a gap when it comes to punishment.

"They want to treat them as a separate group so if they get probation and they violate probation, they can’t go to a juvenile jail which we have, or an adult jail which we have, so there’s no place to put them," Fasano said.

Fasano said as a whole, the bill is, "not well thought out".

Winfield said raising the age will lead to decreased recidivism.

“What we know is that when young people find themselves in our system, they tend to come back to our system and that’s a cycle that we’re trying to avoid in the state of Connecticut.”

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