Gov. Proposes Connecticut Become First State to Raise Youthful Offender Age

Gov. Dannel Malloy proposed Connecticut become the first state to raise the age limit of a youthful offender in order to reform the state's criminal justice system

“What I’m trying to do, because I can give you the statistics that show that this will make us safer is to prevent people from becoming permanent criminals because of basically how they are treated on minor offenses" said Malloy during a press conference at a church in Hartford.

At the heart of the proposals is a plan to raise the age of a youthful offender in Connecticut from 17 to 20 by July 2019. Under the governor's proposal, the age would increase each year up to 2019.

Connecticut would become the first state in the nation to take such a step.

Malloy said there's data that backing the idea of a higher age limit.

“We know that the human mind has not reached its full point of maturation until age 25,” the governor said.

Malloy added that other areas of society and law accept that some behaviors and products should only be participated in by people of certain ages like the smoking age of 18 and the drinking age of 21.

"Let’s extend that to youthful offenders or young offenders with the hope that that’s the springboard to avoiding a life of crime,” Malloy said.

The other significant part of the governor's announcement was to eliminate bail for misdemeanors.

Judges would maintain discretion on a case-by-case basis but for such cases, bail would no longer exist under the governor's proposal.

The motivation behind the idea is that bail, for many people in Connecticut, is a burdensome requirement that could cripple someone's home and professional lives.

“People make $20,000 bail with as little as $250 dollars and generally not more than $2,000, so in essence, we’ll have 550 people in jail for a lack of 2,000," he said.

In a statement, Drew Bloom with the Bail Association of Connecticut wrote:

"The proposals announced today should be made part of the review process that the Governor recently requested the State Sentencing Commission to conduct. Bail reform will have broad ranging impact on many segments of society and comprehensive changes in this area should be carefully vetted so as to avoid serious unintended consequences."

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