Lawmakers are working on a bill focusing on youth crime. Community members demanded changes at the State Capitol on Tuesday night after some crimes spiked during the pandemic.
From wild chases to a terrifying kidnapping in a grocery store parking lot to worries about car thefts and break-ins, concerns about crime have led to packed community meetings during the past year.
"It’s crazy. We just don’t feel safe like we did 20-something, 30 years ago," said Beverly Scavetta, of Glastonbury.
"What I'm hearing is that people are taking different actions today, because of their fear,” said John Porriello, of SafeStreets CT.
Porriello said the advocacy of members of his group SafeStreets CT has been important to bring attention to current state laws. Now they're supporting a bill moving through the Capitol, which tackles youth crime.
"It is a step in the right direction to restore public safety to Connecticut streets," he added.
Here are some of the changes that House Bill 5417 would bring:
- Judges could order an arrested child be electronically monitored.
- It would extend the maximum hold period from six to eight hours.
- It would allow more access to juvenile delinquency records.
On Tuesday, Governor Ned Lamont and members of law enforcement expressed their support.
“I think this a great approach with the legislation because it balances the sanctity of the youth with the safety of people in the streets and the community,” said East Hartford Police Chief Scott Sansom.
Some youth advocates feel the legislation doesn't get to the root of the problem. The Connecticut Justice Alliance said it seems to make it easier to lock kids up rather than help them out.
“Dealing with issues such as poverty, lack of access to education, lack of access to jobs, not having folks work inside programs where they go for schools where they got that look or have been through the same experience as them,” said Christina Quaranta, of the Connecticut Justice Alliance.
Governor Lamont said for people to not just focus on this bill. He thinks they should consider a larger effort to take care of kids including through social work and programs for mental health.
NBC Connecticut is told the House Democrat leadership considers this bill a priority, though there is no word on when a vote could happen. It does have bi-partisan support.