State Numbers Show Fewer Young People in Adult Prisons

Dec 17, 2013

Mike Lawlor.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

The state said that a new law aimed at getting juveniles out of the adult prison system is working. It's called the "raise the age" law and was fully implemented last year.

The point was to take people under 18 out of the adult justice system for all but the most serious crimes. Instead, when arrested, they are now handled within the juvenile system.

New numbers released by the state show that the law is having its desired effect. While there were 326 people under 18 in adult prisons in an average month of 2009, there were only 89 in the same situation as of December 1.

Mike Lawlor, the governor's undersecretary for criminal justice, said, "There's just a lot fewer of those kids sitting in juvenile detention or in adult prisons today compared to four or five or six years ago." He credited the "raise the age" law for the change. He also said fewer 16- and 17-year-olds are in the juvenile system, too.

"Bottom line is," Lawlor said, "as we've tried to shift our focus for the younger kids into intervening earlier, and getting them off this trajectory, it seems to be working. Now we've got the data over three, or four, or five years. Connecticut now is being held up as one of the national models of how to do this right."

Later this week, the state will be recognized by the National Juvenile Justice Network citing similar results. The report will show that the state has reduced its rate of juvenile incarceration by 60 percent between 2001 and 2011.