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CT Law Treating 17-Year-Olds as Children in Court Goes Into Effect

From now on, 17-year-olds arrested for non-felony crimes will be able to take advantage of more state rehabilitation programs rather than jail.

Starting Monday, 17-year-olds who get arrested for non-felony crimes will no longer be tried as adults.

Instead, these teenagers will be treated through the juvenile court system, meaning they will be subjected to the same, less-severe penalties of their 16- or 15-year-old counterparts.

The new state law went into effect this week, along with a host of other laws passed by the General Assembly this year.

The move means that, rather than face jail time for crimes like minor burglaries or misdemeanors, 17-year-olds will have a chance to utilize a broad array of interventions and programs available to them in the justice system, according to a press release from state Sen. Majority Leader Marin M. Looney.

Connecticut joins 38 other states in going this route.

As reported by the Connecticut Mirror, it's expected that 4,000 cases involving these teens will be handled in the juvenile court system each year.

“The fact of the matter is, by providing mental health and other community-based interventions we’re giving these teens some of the help they need, reducing the likelihood of recidivism and offering a second chance at being a productive member of society,” Looney said “This is smart policy that treats children like children.”

The new law has been a long time coming. Back in 2010, state lawmakers discussed, and later passed, an adjustment to the state’s judicial code prohibiting 16-year-olds from being tried as adults in non-felony cases. This new law, which was looked at as the second part of that previous law, goes into effect exactly two years later.

“The fact of the matter is, by providing mental health and other community based interventions we’re giving these teens some of the help they need, reducing the likelihood of recidivism and offering a second chance at being a productive member of society,” Looney said. “This is smart policy that treats children like children.”

According to a study cited by The Connecticut Mirror, 75 percent of teens going through the justice system were receiving no rehabilitative services.

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