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As Connecticut governor's race heats up, juvenile justice becomes campaign issue

From left, challenger Bob Stefanowski  and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.
From left, challenger Bob Stefanowski and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.

As Connecticut’s new juvenile justice laws go into effect, the two gubernatorial candidates continue to debate whether the state is doing enough to curb youth crime.

Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski says it took Connecticut Democrats too long to push for change, as car thefts began to rise during the pandemic.

“I do think Governor Lamont avoided the topic for the last couple of years,” Stefanowski said. “I think had we addressed it earlier, we could have saved some lives.”

Gov, Ned Lamont, however, says it’s important to keep in mind the pandemic’s impact on youth.

“We've gone through COVID hell and long COVID. It's not just respiratory– a lot of it is the stress,” he said. “I see that in crime, I see that in shootings. And we're trying to come up with a holistic approach.”

Lamont recently signed new legislation that speeds up the time it takes young offenders to be seen by a judge and to get access to therapy and other services. The laws also allow judges to order GPS monitoring to track repeat juvenile offenders.

Stefanowski says he supports the reform, but if elected, he plans to use the state’s budget surplus to invest in more youth programs. Meanwhile, Lamont says he wants to see how the new laws will affect youth crime and revisit the issue in a year.

To hear more about what Lamont and Stefanowski have to say about youth crime and Connecticut’s new laws, be sure to watch Cutline: Spotlight on Juvenile Justice on CPTV this Thursday at 8pm.
Copyright 2022 Connecticut Public Radio. To see more, visit Connecticut Public Radio.

Carmen Molina Acosta
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