youth crime

Republicans Continue To Push Conversation On Crime, But Dems Say Data Doesn't Support It

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Republican senators want the Democratic majority to look at laws they believe have contributed to certain crimes like juvenile car thefts increasing. 

But Democrats say the data doesn’t necessarily mean they need to change the law. 

“Every single life matters and we shouldn’t accept these results on a daily basis where we wake up and we see that teenagers are stabbed to death or shot or you have a car theft and thank God the kid who was sitting in the car seat that this wasn’t July,” Republican Senate Leader Kevin Kelly says. 

Kelly says it’s time for the government to do something. You can read their 16-page proposal below.

“This has innocent lives, individuals who are dying in our streets. We need to deal with this. This is an emergency,” Kelly says. 

In Connecticut, juvenile car theft arrests increased 23% in 2020.

But they are on their way back down this year. In the first six months of 2021 they have decreased 19%, according to Judicial Branch statistics. 

FBI statistics show Connecticut's overall violent crime rate declined by 1.6% in 2020 but murders increased 30% and overall car thefts climbed nearly 42%. 

“The challenges that people like me face are not ones that all kids are not even familiar with right. What it means to be a young person and take on a parental role at the age of 12, 13, 14,” Iliana Pujols says.

Pujols, policy director at the Connecticut Justice Alliance, says involving police isn’t always the answer.

“The populations that are engaging in crime. They’re not familiar with personal and professional development skills. They don’t know what it is to manage emotions,” Pujols says.

One Democrat says Republicans don’t need legislation to accomplish the changes they are seeking. 

“We’re talking about juvenile car thefts and all of a sudden they’re talking about homicides. It's hard to know what they are talking about,” Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, says. 

“It’s hard to know what exactly it is they are trying to fix,” he added.

Gov. Ned Lamont says he’s keeping an open mind. 

“Look we’re ready to act. If we have something that is timely and requires the legislature coming back I’ll look for those ideas,” Lamont says. 

Lamont says the pandemic took a toll. 

Republicans say there’s too much time between an arrest of a youth and their court date. They also want to institute mandatory around-the-clock gps monitoring. They also want to revisit the police accountability law. 

“As a state we really need to take a look at how much we’re involving police in young people's and families' lives,” Pujols says. 

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