PA 15-183—sHB 7050
AN ACT CONCERNING THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
SUMMARY: This act makes various changes affecting the juvenile justice system.
It changes when cases may or must be transferred from juvenile court to adult criminal court, including:
1. eliminating automatic transfers for children ages 14 through 17 charged with certain class B felonies and
2. raising the minimum age, from 14 to 15, for the (a) automatic transfer for other class B felonies or more serious crimes and (b) discretionary transfer for felonies not subject to automatic transfer.
The act creates a presumption that mechanical restraints (such as shackles) will be removed from a juvenile during juvenile court proceedings before a determination of delinquency, consistent with recent Judicial Branch policy. The act allows such restraints only upon court order and according to Judicial Branch policy and requires the branch to keep related statistical information.
It expands the Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee's (JJPOC) membership and responsibilities. For example, it requires the committee to (1) implement a strategic plan and report on it by January 1, 2016 and (2) annually report on certain matters beyond the previous January 1, 2017 end date for its responsibilities.
The act also makes technical and conforming changes.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015
§ 1 — TRANSFER TO ADULT CRIMINAL COURT
Prior law required the juvenile court to automatically transfer a child age 14 through 17 to adult criminal court if he or she was charged with a capital felony committed prior to April 25, 2012, a class A or B felony (see BACKGROUND), or arson murder. For 14- to 17-year-olds charged with other felonies, the prosecutor could request a transfer to adult court, and the court could order the transfer in certain circumstances, described below.
For all felonies, the act eliminates the transfer of 14-year-olds to adult court.
It also eliminates automatic transfer for the following class B felonies:
1. first-degree manslaughter;
2. first-degree assault of a Department of Correction employee;
3. second-degree sexual assault of a victim under age 16;
4. second-degree kidnapping;
5. one form of first-degree burglary (i. e. , the person enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime in the building and in the course of committing the offense, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily injury on another person);
6. second-degree arson;
7. first-degree larceny;
8. first-degree identify theft;
9. first-degree robbery, other than when the person is armed with a deadly weapon;
10. importing child pornography;
11. first-degree possessing child pornography;
12. first-degree computer crime; and
13. computer crime in furtherance of terrorist purposes.
The act allows the prosecutor to request a transfer to adult court for a child age 15 to 17 charged with one of these crimes, under the same procedures as in existing law for felonies not subject to automatic transfer.
Under these procedures, if the prosecutor requests a transfer, the court can order the transfer only if it determines after a hearing that (1) there is probable cause to believe that the child committed the alleged offense and (2) the best interests of both the child and public are not served by keeping the case in juvenile court. The court must consider (1) the child's prior criminal or juvenile offenses and their seriousness, (2) any evidence that the child has intellectual disability or mental illness, and (3) the availability of juvenile court services that can serve the child's needs. The motion to transfer must be made, and the hearing held, within 30 days after the child's arraignment in juvenile court.
For these discretionary transfers, as for discretionary transfers under existing law, the adult criminal court can return the case to juvenile court any time before a jury verdict or guilty plea, on a showing of good cause.
§ 3 — MECHANICAL RESTRAINTS IN JUVENILE COURT PROCEEDINGS
Under the act, there is a presumption that all mechanical restraints will be removed from a detained juvenile appearing in juvenile court. The presumption applies before the juvenile appears in court and throughout his or her court appearances, until the final adjudication of the case.
The act allows the in-court use of mechanical restraints for these juveniles only upon court order and under the written policy of the Judicial Branch (see BACKGROUND).
The act requires the Judicial Branch to keep statistics on the use of mechanical restraints during juvenile proceedings. It requires the branch to provide these statistics to any member of the public on request. Before doing so, the branch must redact any information that would identify a juvenile.
§ 2 — JJPOC
Legislation enacted last year established the JJPOC to evaluate and report on (1) juvenile justice system policies and (2) the extension of juvenile jurisdiction to 16- and 17-year-olds.
Under prior law, the JJPOC had 35 members. The act adds to the committee the:
1. labor, social services, and public health commissioners, or their designees and
2. chief of police of a municipality with a population over 100,000, appointed by the president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.
Existing law requires the JJPOC to submit specific reports to the Appropriations, Children's, Human Services, and Judiciary committees and the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary. The first report was due January 1, 2015; the next report was due July 1, 2015; and quarterly reports are then due until January 1, 2017.
Strategic Plan. By law, among the required topics of the first report were short-, medium-, and long-term goals for the JJPOC and state agencies with juvenile justice system responsibilities, developed after considering existing relevant reports related to the juvenile justice system and any related state strategic plan.
The act requires the JJPOC to implement a strategic plan integrating these goals. In doing so, the JJPOC must collaborate with (1) municipal police departments and (2) any state agency with juvenile justice system responsibilities, including the Judicial Branch and the departments of Children and Families (DCF), Correction, Education (SDE), Labor, and Mental Health and Addiction Services.
By January 1, 2016, the JJPOC must report on the plan to the Appropriations, Children's, Human Services, and Judiciary committees and the OPM secretary. The report must (1) address progress toward the plan's full implementation and (2) include any recommendations on the implementation of these goals by municipal police departments or any involved state agency.
Recommendations to Improve the Juvenile Justice System. The act requires the JJPOC to assess the juvenile justice system and make recommendations to improve it. The JJPOC must report the assessment and recommendations to the recipients noted above, by July 1 of 2016, 2017, and 2018. The reports must address:
1. educational outcomes and mental health and substance abuse treatment programs and services for children and youths (i. e. , ages 16 or 17) involved with the juvenile justice system, or at risk of involvement;
2. disproportionate minority contact with children and youths involved with the juvenile justice system;
3. training on the system for state agencies and municipal police departments;
4. diverting at-risk children and youths from the system;
5. recidivism tracking and policies and procedures to reduce recidivism;
6. data sharing among public and private juvenile justice agencies and other child services agencies, including SDE, to evaluate the system's effectiveness and efficiency;
7. vocational educational opportunities for children and youths in the system, until age 21;
8. oversight of, and reduction in, the use of restraints for children and youths, and reduction in the use of seclusion and room confinement in juvenile justice facilities;
9. evidence-based positive behavioral support strategies and other evidence-based or research-informed strategies to reduce the reliance on restraints and seclusion; and
10. programs and facilities using restraints or seclusion for children or youths and any data on this use, including the rate and duration of use for children and youths with disabilities.
Reporting on Progress. Existing law requires the JJPOC to submit quarterly reports on the progress in achieving its goals and measures, starting by July 1, 2015 until January 1, 2017. The act extends this requirement to include annual reporting after that.
Consultation and Support. Prior law required the JJPOC, in meeting its requirements for the reports due in January and July 2015, to consult with one or more organizations that focus on relevant children and youth issues, such as the University of New Haven. The act requires this consultation for all of the JJPOC's responsibilities. It specifically allows the committee to accept administrative support and technical and research assistance from these organizations.
By law, the JJPOC must also work in collaboration with any Results First initiatives implemented by law, including those implemented by the Results First Policy Oversight Committee (CGS § 2-111).
Class A and B Felonies: Disposition in Juvenile vs. Criminal Court
When handled in criminal court, authorized prison terms are generally up to (1) 25 years for class A felonies and (2) 20 years for class B felonies. For some A or B felonies, there are (1) longer maximum terms (e. g. , 60 years for murder) or (2) mandatory minimum terms.
If a child or youth is adjudicated delinquent in a juvenile court for violating a criminal statute, the court may order various sentences, such as an alternative incarceration program, probation, or commitment to DCF. DCF commitment may be for up to four years for a “serious juvenile offense” or up to 18 months for other offenses. Serious juvenile offenses include (1) murder with special circumstances (previously, capital felony); (2) arson murder, (3) all class A felonies; and (4) many class B felonies.
DCF may extend the commitment beyond these periods if it can prove to the court that doing so would be in the best interest of the child or the community. DCF commitments for delinquency end when the child reaches age 20 (CGS §§ 46b-140, 141).
Judicial Branch Policy on Use of Mechanical Restraints in Juvenile Courts
Effective April 1, 2015, a Judicial Branch policy established a presumption that mechanical restraints will be removed from a juvenile prior to and throughout his or her appearance in juvenile court. In-court restraints may be used only pursuant to a judge's order in accordance with the policy.
The policy requires a classification and program officer from the Court Support Services Division to complete a form before transporting a juvenile to juvenile court, indicating whether restraints are recommended and, if so, the types of restraints. The policy specifies factors that must be present to support the use of these restraints (e. g. , whether the juvenile has threatened or attempted to escape or is charged with a class A felony).
The juvenile's lawyer or other parties who may disagree with the recommendation may address the court before the juvenile appears before it. After hearing from all parties, the judge must determine which restraints, if any, are appropriate.
Any restraints removed under this policy must be immediately reapplied upon completion of the court hearing, in a secure area outside the courtroom.
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