Officials in Connecticut aim to stop juvenile crimes from escalating into lifetimes of adult offenses. One measure is a new law that deals with repeat juvenile car thefts.
What is the new law about?
A new law that passed in July 2022 is controversial, but many believe that it will be effective. There have been strings of juvenile car thefts across the state. Many of these crimes have been violent and even resulted in the death of a man who was out jogging when a stolen vehicle jumped the curb, striking him. The thief was a teen who had been arrested multiple times within the past four years.
The new law gives investigators the right to gain more access to juvenile criminal records. This includes previous criminal history as well as any pending charges against youth. The belief is that if law enforcement has as much information on a juvenile suspect as possible, they will know what they’re dealing with and will be better prepared. For example, someone with a violent criminal history is more dangerous than someone lacking it.
How will penalties be determined for these juvenile offenses?
Another purpose behind the new law is to ensure that juvenile offenders receive penalties that are worthy of their crimes and record as a whole. Suspects will receive penalties based on their criminal record instead of based on the value of the vehicle stolen. This means that juvenile car thieves can face harsher jail or prison sentences and larger fines.
There are arguments from both sides of the aisle politically. While Democrats and juvenile justice groups believe that the new law goes too far, Republicans claim that the measures are not enough. State senators say that additional steps such as GPS monitoring and fingerprinting should be done and that juveniles should be charged as adults in such crimes.
An official from a justice group stated that the new law would marginalize certain groups, especially Black and brown children.
Some people say that juvenile car thefts are not even a big problem as they increased in 2020 but then decreased considerably in 2021.