Juvenile Justice Quarterly
This article appeared in the Juvenile Justice Quarterly, Issue 5, March 2013 (Full newsletter in pdf)
On the Fiscal Front
Connecticut sees improved outcomes for youth
A February 2013 report, Juvenile Justice Reform In Connecticut: How Collaboration and Commitment Have Improved Public Safety and Outcomes for Youth, released by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), details Connecticut’s success with juvenile justice policies over the past 20 years. The report identifies Connecticut’s seven major accomplishments, which includes decreasing their juvenile detention populations, increasing use of community based programs and keeping juveniles out of adult facilities; all resulting in cost savings.
According to the report, Connecticut’s increased investment in evidence-based treatment programs was key to improving their juvenile justice system; the state’s investment jumped from $300,000 in 2000 to $39 million in 2009. In 2012, 1,600 juveniles participated in these family and behavioral therapy programs. Thousands of children in the state’s custody, welfare and mental health systems also received treatment from evidence-based programs.
With the increased use of community-based programs, commitments to Connecticut’s juvenile residential facilities decreased. In fact, the state reduced commitments by 70 percent, from 680 to 216, between 2000 and 2011. Also, the average daily population for juveniles detained before trial fell from 132 to 94 between 2006 and 2011. These reductions occurred even after Connecticut legislation raised the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to bring 16-year-olds into the juvenile system. The report found that the two agencies administering the state’s juvenile justice system, the Department of Children and Families and the Judicial Branch’s Court Support Services Division, spent $2 million less in the 2011-12 fiscal year than they had a decade earlier.
“The reforms in Connecticut’s juvenile justice system could not have occurred without the collaboration among legislators, the juvenile justice agencies, judges, advocates, providers and families,” said State Representative Toni Walker. “ We are now experiencing better outcomes for our children and their families at no additional cost to taxpayers and without risk to public safety. I hope Connecticut’s success will inspire other states to take on juvenile justice reform.”