HOW CONNECTICUT RAISED THE AGE

Study

The legislature convened the Juvenile Jurisdiction Planning and Implementation Committee (JJPIC) in 2006. It was co-chaired by Raise the Age’s primary legislative champions, then-state Senator Toni Harp and state Representative Toni Walker. The committee spent the months when the legislature was out of session thoroughly studying the implications of returning all but the most serious young offenders ages 16 and 17 to the juvenile system. It included representatives from police, advocacy, prosecution, defense, the bench, and the departments of Children and Families and of Correction. It brought in outside experts to help facilitate data collection and analysis as well as policy discussions.

That group contained all key stakeholders, those who were originally in favor of the plan and those who were wary of change, as well as both system insiders (state agency leaders) and outsiders (advocates, parents, providers). Bringing everyone to the table for the airing and examination of multiple perspectives allowed the drafting of legislation that would have broad support. It also led to proposed legislation all committee members could support. Compromises made in deference to police and prosecutors, for example around the questioning procedures for 16- and 17-year-olds, made the bill less controversial than it would have been otherwise.

The committee’s final report, issued in 2007, laid out a thorough and clear plan for bringing 16- and 17-year-olds into the juvenile system. This included information about services necessary for this older cohort and logistical information to make sure that on-the-ground implementation went smoothly. The thoroughness of the JJPIC’s report helped combat dramatically inflated cost estimates espoused by opponents. A fiscal note had put the cost at $100 million by FY11.

Raise the Age legislation passed in 2007, including language creating the Juvenile Jurisdiction Policy and Operations Coordinating Committee, charged with actualizing and monitoring the implementation of Raise the Age. Again, this group included all the key stakeholders who were in the JJPIC.

Advocacy

How the Raise the Age campaign got started and what strategies it used.

Study

How an extensive study by stakeholders, including skeptics, moved reform forward.

Implementation

How implementing Raise the Age in stages helped overcome financial concerns.