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The Economic Impact of Raising the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction in Connecticut

Remarks before the Judiciary and Appropriations Committee, Connecticut General Assembly, February 21, 2006

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Document date: February 21, 2006
Released online: February 21, 2006

The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.

Note: This report is available in its entirety in the Portable Document Format (PDF).


Good afternoon, and thank you, Representative Walker, the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, and members of the Committee, for inviting me to speak today. My name is John Roman, and I am a researcher in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit economic and social policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.

The issue before us today is whether the age at which juveniles automatically enter the adult criminal justice system in Connecticut should be raised from 16 years to 18 years. Pending legislation would raise the age of jurisdiction to 18 years for Family with Service Needs and for the Juvenile Matters section of the Superior Court for delinquency matters. According to recent data, the proposed change in the age of juvenile jurisdiction would move more than 10,000 new cases a year from the adult criminal justice system to the juvenile justice system.

If this legislation becomes law, the economic consequences will likely be far-reaching. Responsibility within Connecticut agencies for processing and supervising juveniles will shift; in large part, the cost burden will move to the juvenile system. One key question is whether existing resources will follow youth from the adult system to the juvenile system, or whether new resources will be required.

A second question is whether the change ultimately reduces crime. If the juvenile system rehabilitates young offenders more effectively than the adult system, then fewer Connecticut citizens will be victimized, with savings to those would-be victims.

The third question is whether there are other community effects in addition to crime prevention. Since crime rates affect the quality of life throughout a community-through property values, wages, and access to capital-a reduction in crime may return benefits to residents, even those who are unlikely to be directly victimized.

The Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance has commissioned the Urban Institute, in partnership with the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, to review the costs and benefits of the proposed change in juvenile jurisdiction.

Our research addresses the first two of the three questions posed here: What are the fiscal implications of the change in jurisdiction for public agencies? And, will the change in jurisdiction result in less crime in the community and fewer costs to would-be victims?

Note: This report is available in its entirety in the Portable Document Format (PDF).



Topics/Tags: | Crime/Justice


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