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Chief State's Attorney: Juvenile Offenders Are Taking Advantage Of Reforms

Chion Wolf
Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane said it's difficult for police to detain youth who repeatedly steal cars.

Connecticut’s chief state’s attorney believes some of the latest reforms to the juvenile justice system may have gone too far. 

Kevin Kane said he agrees with the general principles of reform, including raising the age at which young people are automatically treated as adults in the system.

But he said there needs to be more discretion on detaining juveniles who may be a danger to the public, and on potentially sending them into adult court if the case warrants.

He spoke with WNPR’s Where We Live.

“Particularly what we’re concerned about here [are] serious incidents we’ve had with these young kids who are stealing cars," he said, "repetitively being referred to the juvenile court, not being detained, being out and doing it again -- some while they’re on probation, some while their case is pending -- and fleeing from the police, and during the course of the flight, killing somebody.”

Kane maintains some juvenile offenders are taking advantage of the changes in the law to offend without fear of repercussions.

But Chris Rapillo from the Public Defender’s Office said she believes there is still enough flexibility in the system to deal with these kinds of cases.

“We’ve all seen the terrible incidents that have been in the press, but I don’t think it’s indicative of a problem with the reforms in Connecticut," said Rapillo.

"Police can detain kids," she said. "They have to get a court order - it’s been like that for a number of years. The goal of those changes was to keep those kids who are being arrested because of mental health issues or behavioral health issues out of the detention center.” 

Kane recently wrote an op-ed in The Hartford Courant on his views.

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