HARTFORD, Conn — There was a debate in a public hearing Wednesday over youth crime and incarcerations in Connecticut.
One state bill pushes for young people 18 and under to be transferred out of adult prisons, and the other bill pushes for stricter policies regarding crime involving youth.
One local advocacy group called on more resources to prevent youth crimes, saying the answer isn't found in jail time, but rather funding in educational opportunities to stop the problem at the root.
"Mass incarceration, surveillance and over-policing will not solve any of the issues Connecticut is seeing in terms of violence. You can’t end violence with violence, you must address the root," said Christina Quaranta, Executive Director of the Connecticut Justice Alliance.
The Connecticut Justice Alliance (CTJA) spoke out in favor of legislation that educates, houses, and supports troubled youth while getting young people 18 and under out of adult prisons.
"If anyone thinks the solution is to send more children to the adult criminal justice system I can tell you based on experience you will get the opposite of intended result," said Mike Lawlor, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven.
The legislation heard in a public hearing on Wednesday focused on shifting funding to prioritize community-based intervention programs like the CTJA.
They said they want to hold youth accountable for their actions with rehabilitation and opportunities to turn their lives around.
"We take too long to help them and it’s imperative we stand on our morals and say let’s change the system like it needs to be changed not band-aid it," said Representative Anthony Nolan with House District 39.
In the same public hearing, lawmakers heard reaction on another bill that creates stricter policies when it comes to juvenile crime.
Last year the state saw heightened car thefts committed by teens, which sparked legislation to cut down on the offenses which passed last legislative session.
But the CTJA said lawmakers need to fix the problem and not fix punishments.
"We must change the system," said Nolan.
The public hearing heard speakers on both sides of the issue.
Now the focus shifts to lawmakers but those speakers said they'll continue to fight for the legislation they want to see into law.
Lindsey Kane is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at Lkane@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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