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CT State Senate Focuses on Auto Thefts & Juvenile Justice Reform

HARTFORD -- On May 9, the State Senate advanced Senate Bill 504, as amended, in a unanimous and bipartisan vote. The bill would create a justice reform and diversionary program to rehabilitate juveniles charged with certain crimes, including car theft, and prevent further instances of criminal activity among the younger population.

“This is a critical public safety and juvenile justice issue for urban, rural and suburban communities throughout our state, and until now there has not been an appropriate and effective way for juveniles to be disciplined, held accountable, and also protected from the full force of the Connecticut justice system,” said Senator Hwang. “Since the beginning of this session my fellow legislators, the State’s attorney and public defenders have worked together to reach a bipartisan and comprehensive bill that provides a diversionary process for young people who violate the law, but does not create a pathway to incarceration and rather works to avoid such a pathway and seeks to benefit communities through acts of positive public service and individual rehabilitation.”

This bill originated as a response to the epidemic of car thefts in communities throughout Connecticut, including in some towns within Senator Hwang’s 28th district. The original bill was amended during conversations with various legislators representing affected communities, criminal and social justice leaders, and legislative leaders to create a bipartisan compromise bill that satisfied all parties.

Under the amendment, SB 504 would create a program where the courts can decide, based on the information in the case before them, if the juvenile being charged with a crime would benefit from certain services or treatment rather than being thrown into the criminal justice system. If deemed eligible, the prosecutorial proceedings could be delayed for up to six months, with a possible extension of an additional six months, while the individual charged would work with a juvenile parole officer to complete the services and/or treatments assigned by the court. 

This suspension of proceedings will not be granted to any individuals charged with a serious crime or individuals who have previously received a suspension of proceedings through this program.

Data will also be collected by the Judicial Branch concerning the demographics, type of offense, and services/treatment completed for each individual taking part in this program. 

“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all shareholders for being great partners in this process. This is another great example of how bipartisan cooperation leads us to well thought out, comprehensive, and hopefully effective legislation.”

State Senator Tony Hwang represents Connecticut’s 28th Senate district including the towns of Fairfield, Westport, Weston, Easton, Newtown & Sandy Hook.

View the bill here

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