Projects: Raising the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction in Connecticut

In 2007, the general assembly in the State of Connecticut passed a law raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18, effective July 2009. Prior to this legislation, Connecticut was one of only three states that continued to try 16- and 17-year-olds in an adult criminal justice system. CYJ staff provided technical assistance to help state officials develop a viable implementation plan that was a key element of the legislation's passage.

CYJ’s Contributions

Specifically, CYJ provided the following assistance:

  • As project managers for the legislative committee that promoted the change—the Juvenile Justice Planning and Implementation Committee—CYJ staff conducted exploratory research on the juvenile justice system’s capacity to include 16- and 17-year-olds, developed timelines and benchmarks to guide committee planning to accommodate the expanded population, and facilitated discussions to move the effort forward.
  • CYJ helped draft the Connecticut Juvenile Jurisdiction and Planning Implementation Committee Final Report. This report uses information gathered during the planning process to describe the central components of the implementation plan—identifying appropriate detention facilities, enlarging staff, etc. It also highlights key tasks and outstanding issues and provides pertinent information about national reform.

Why Raise the Age?

Concern about increasing rates of adolescent violence in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s had led many states to allow 16- and 17-year-old youth to be tried in the adult criminal justice system. Although many states subsequently reversed this decision, in 2007 Connecticut remained one of only three states—along with North Carolina and New York—that still tried young people as adults. As a result, its practices were out of step with new research showing significant cognitive differences between adolescents and adults. Also, research shows that youth released from an adult facility are more likely to reoffend than those released from juvenile placement. Vera’s participation helped Connecticut to align its juvenile justice policy with the latest research and best practices. 

For more information, contact center coordinator Insiyah Mohammad.

Featured Expert

Former Director, Center on Youth Justice