Connecticut is one of nine states recognized in a new national report for significantly reducing youth incarceration rates since 2001 – a drop attributed to new policies and expanded community alternatives to detention. The report by the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) and the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice found that Connecticut had 252 youths confined in 2011 – a drop of 60 percent from 2001 and one of the highest reduction rates in the country. Nationally, youth confinement declined by 41 percent since 2000, when a record-setting 108,802 youths were held in detention? centers awaiting trial or confined by the courts in juvenile facilities. “States have made strides in changing their policies so that youth are held accountable in age-appropriate ways, but there is more work to be done,” said Sarah Bryer, director of the NJJN.
Connecticut has become a national leader in a “critical but quiet revolution” in policies to reduce youth incarceration, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Juvenile Justice Network and the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The report identifies Connecticut as one of nine states that have led the nation in reducing youth incarceration by adopting policies that support and encourage alternatives. According to the report, youth incarceration in Connecticut declined by 50 percent from 2001 to 2010, reflecting a nationwide shift away from what the authors say was an over-reliance on youth confinement in the 1980s and 1990s. The report credits Connecticut with developing a network of community-based services for young offenders and high-risk youths; placing new restrictions on the ability of law enforcement to commit a child to secure detention; reducing the number of state detention centers; and working to reduce school-based arrests. From 1985 to 2000, the number of youths confined in public facilities in Connecticut increased 37 percent, from 202 to 276, according to the report.