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Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut: How Collaboration and Commitment Have Improved Public Safety and Outcomes for Youth

NCJ Number
Richard Mendel
Date Published
56 pages
This report details the improvements made to Connecticut's juvenile justice system over the past two decades.
This report describes Connecticut's successful juvenile justice reform efforts that have been implemented throughout the State over the past two decades. These reforms are 1) reduced overreliance on confinement; 2) development of a continuum of targeted, high-quality non-residential programs and services for youth; 3) improved conditions in juvenile facilities; 4) diversion of status offending youth away from the court system and out of locked detention centers; 5) enactment of legislation to keep youth out of the adult justice system; 6) addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system's treatment of youth; and 7) reduces arrests at school for routine and non-serious behavior. As a result of these reforms, the State has found that spending on juvenile justice has not increased despite implementation of many new programs and services, and more impressively, the juvenile crime rates have dropped considerably even as confinement rates of youth have decreased. This report describes these reform efforts and offers advice for other States on how to develop and implement these changes. The first section of the report contains a detailed timeline of the development and implementation of the changes, while the second section of the report explores the critical factors that played a role in the reform efforts. The third and final section of the report discusses what other States and local jurisdictions can learn from Connecticut's juvenile justice reform efforts. Tables, figures, photographs, and endnotes