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Connecticut officials fail at attempt to revamp juvenile sentencing laws

Juveniles who participate in criminal activities should be held accountable for their crime. However, many people argue as to the degree of punishment that should be inflicted on young people. Some people believe that certain teenagers, when given adequate rehabilitation, can become an active member of society. Current legislation in Connecticut enables the judicial system to impose adult sentences on juveniles who are charged with serious crimes. This means that a teenager between the ages of 14 to 17-years-old may be tried as an adult and receive a mandatory life-without-parole sentence for their crime.

A group of Connecticut officials, including members of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission created a bill that would change the sentencing policies for juveniles. This came after the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling requiring states to offer juvenile inmates a significant opportunity to be rehabilitated and released at some point in the future. They also decided it appropriate to ban the use of mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile criminals.

The bill, which recently failed in the Senate, would have allowed juveniles to be eligible for a parole hearing after completing at least 12 years of their sentence or 60 percent depending on which is longer. It would have also done away with imposing extreme adult sentences on juveniles under the age of 18-years-old. The group is still holding out hope that the bill will be eligible for the General Assembly session in 2015.

Many teenagers who choose to live a life of crime may be too young and immature to grasp the severity of their actions. With time, therapy and rehabilitation, it may be possible for these teenagers to lead a successful life. Some believe that rehabilitation opportunities for juveniles facing criminal charges are more important than simply tossing children behind bars and throwing away the key. A knowledgeable attorney may be able to provide vital legal counsel to those facing charges for juvenile crimes.

Source: New Haven Register, “Advocates hope to revive juvenile sentencing bill in Connecticut,” Susan Haigh, May 10, 2014.

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