Connecticut Is the First State in Nation to Eliminate Youth Prison Model

Posted April 18, 2018, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Governor Dannel P. Malloy

Governor Dannel P. Malloy

Last week, Con­necti­cut Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy announced the clo­sure of the Con­necti­cut Juve­nile Train­ing School, the state’s large juve­nile cor­rec­tions facility.

Incar­cer­at­ing young peo­ple makes reha­bil­i­ta­tion, heal­ing and growth more chal­leng­ing,” Mal­loy said in a state­ment. As a state, we must endeav­or to pro­vide a more suit­able set­ting for this crit­i­cal work.” Malloy’s deci­sion rec­og­nizes how dan­ger­ous and harm­ful youth pris­ons are to young peo­ple.

Read about Gov­er­nor Mal­loy prece­dent-set­ting pro­pos­al to raise the age of juve­nile court jurisdiction

There are suc­cess­ful alter­na­tives to youth pris­ons that hold young peo­ple account­able but give them a sec­ond chance and new oppor­tu­ni­ty. The future of youth jus­tice is in com­mu­ni­ty-based approach­es that can reduce recidi­vism, con­trol costs and pro­mote pub­lic safe­ty, accord­ing to a report by Har­vard Kennedy School’s Pro­gram in Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Pol­i­cy and Man­age­ment and the Nation­al Insti­tute of Jus­tice. The Casey Foundation’s pres­i­dent and CEO, Patrick McCarthy, coau­thored the report.

The clo­sure of Connecticut’s sole youth prison is a sig­nif­i­cant moment for the youth jus­tice field,” said Nate Balis, direc­tor of the Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group. Connecticut’s gov­er­nor should be com­mend­ed for pur­su­ing a dif­fer­ent approach, one that pro­tects pub­lic safe­ty and is more informed by what we know works to get young peo­ple back on track.”

The Con­necti­cut Juve­nile Jus­tice Alliance and oth­er advo­cates have been per­sis­tent and instru­men­tal in mov­ing the state leg­is­la­ture and admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials towards clos­ing the train­ing school and sup­port­ing young peo­ple in their local com­mu­ni­ties,” Balis said.

The momen­tum is shift­ing against America’s long­stand­ing youth prison mod­el. Gov­er­nors in New Jer­sey, Vir­ginia and Wis­con­sin have ordered the clo­sure of youth pris­ons in favor of strate­gies that sup­port per­son­al growth, pos­i­tive behav­ior change and long-term suc­cess. For the last two decades, the Casey Foun­da­tion has part­nered with state and local juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems around the coun­try to demon­strate that the vast major­i­ty of youth can be sup­port­ed safe­ly in the com­mu­ni­ty instead of being locked up in cost­ly institutions.

Watch Patrick McCarthy’s TEDx Talk on youth pris­ons as fac­to­ries of failure

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