Thursday, October 29, 2009

Despite Promises to Close, Juvenile Training Center Expands Services

A state bonding request scheduled for consideration and approval Friday indicates the state is planning an $8,000,000 renovation of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School on Silver Street, East of Connecticut Valley Hospital.

The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) is planning to renovate one of the six cottages at the facility, and create a physical segregation from the other cottages, with separate recreational and educational facilities. The segregated cottage will handle the younger students.

"Essentially it's a segregation of the middle school kids from the high school kids," according to Josh Howroyd, a spokesman for DCF.

The renovations will occur within the current boundaries of the CJTS.

In 2005, Governor Jodi Rell pledged to close the facility and tasked the State Department of Public Works to find an alternate use for the $57 million facility.

According to a 2005 Hartford Courant article:

Rell said she is shutting down the 4-year-old Connecticut Juvenile Training
School and replacing it with two smaller regional facilities for boys and one
for girls that advocates said are long overdue.

If the legislature backs Rell's plan financially, one of the largest projects
of Gov. John G. Rowland's scandal-plagued administration will close down and
Connecticut's ailing juvenile justice system will get a fresh start.

"You cannot help but be terribly saddened by the failure of CJTS to fulfill its
promise ...," Rell said. "But as a leader, I cannot allow the failure of this
institution to continue. As a leader, I cannot fail these young men again."

Rell is seeking to close the school by 2008. The state Department of Public
Works has 90 days to come up with other uses for the site.

The facility was not closed as planned because the state legislature did not come up with the funding of smaller regional centers.

(DCF photo.)

Since then, the legislature has redefined the age of juvenile adjudication. Currently, individuals are tried as juveniles if they commit a crime before their 16th birthday. Next year that threshold rises to age 17, and in 2011, it rises to age 18.

"I saw the handwriting on the wall," Mayor Sebastian Giuliano said today. "As soon as the legislature passed the law which raised the age of juvenile status to 17, I knew they would never close the place down. "

"With the change in age of juvenile adjudication we will see a modest rise in the number of juveniles coming through the CJTS," Howroyd said.

The facility was designed to handle 200 juveniles who had been adjudicated, but currently operates at between 100-120 youths. The DCF expects the modest increase to keep the population below the original maximum number.

"It was designed as a maximum security facility, and it's the only one of its kind in the state," Giuliano said. "Where else are they going to put those kids."

Howroyd explained that serious felonies, such as murder cases, allow juveniles to be tried in adult dockets, and those individuals are incarcerated in adult facilities. In addition, juveniles awaiting trial are held in juvenile detention facilities in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.

Juveniles held at CJTS are typically at the facility for less than a year, and receive education and job training.

"We're trying to break the cycle of crime," Howroyd explained.

The initial bonding request is for planning, testing and developing architectural drawings for the renovation.

1 comment:

David Bauer said...

I am continually amazed at the profound disconnect we allow between these actions and our legislative delegation up in Hartford. Where is the active engagement of Joe Serra, the self-acknowledged Dean of the Middletown delegation, or Rep. Gail Hamm, or Sen. Doyle? This project is in their district.

Contrast their lack of action, or comment, with Bridgeport's legislative delegation's response to the bonding for a women's juvenile prison in Bridgeport.

It is truly pathetic when we compare poorly against Bridgeport, CT!