Connecticut Should Protect Children Already in Its Care [WSJ Letter]

January 8, 2016

Letter as it appeared in the Wall Street Journal

Gov. Dannel Malloy wants Connecticut to be the first state in the nation to raise the minimum age to try a defendant in adult criminal court to age 21, thereby shielding more young people from the adult criminal-justice system (“Malloy Wants 21 as Minimum Age for Adult Trials, Dec. 29). Before the governor embarks on a new crusade, Connecticut should be better protecting the children already in its care.

The juvenile justice facility run by the state’s Department of Children and Families has been investigated for child abuse, excessive use of unlawful restraints and frequent cases of self-injury and suicide attempts on their watch. The governor’s promise to close this facility in the distant future without extensive corrective measures in place now to stop the outrageous conduct is simply an effort to divert criticism, not pursue real change. In addition, the agency’s misguided policies of keeping kids in unsafe homes in order to show fewer out-of-home placements has resulted in tragic, preventable child deaths.

Being the first state in the nation to “raise the age” to 21 would certainly heighten Gov. Malloy’s national image, but his pursuit of the limelight still leaves thousands of children in the dark.

Len Fasano
Connecticut Senate Minority Leader
North Haven, Conn.