“A triumph of bipartisanship” in fighting CT juvenile crime

April 4, 2022

A triumph of bipartisanship

(Waterbury Republican-American Editorial)

Juvenile crime has taken center stage in Connecticut in recent months.

We have urged Gov. Ned Lamont and legislators to address this hot-button issue in a bipartisan manner.

Fortunately, they have done so.

Hats off to everyone who paved the road to this development.

Last summer and fall witnessed a spate of high-profile crimes involving juveniles. A number of these crimes were committed in or near Waterbury. Legislators formed a bipartisan working group to address the problem. Talks broke down, and there was doubt that reforms would materialize, as the Republican-American recounted March 30.

Thankfully, Capitol policymakers moved beyond this spat.

The legislature’s Judiciary Committee has approved, with overwhelming bipartisan support, a bill that would provide important tools to fight juvenile crime, the Republican-American reported.

Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, Senate chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, Senate ranking member of the committee, emphasized that the parties had the same goals, and that the bill represents a compromise on details. Gov. Lamont, a Democrat, had input, according to reporter Paul Hughes.

House Bill 5417 takes a tougher approach to juvenile crime. “The legislation increases from six hours to eight hours the time police can hold a juvenile while they apply for a detention order, or seek a parent or guardian to release a youth from custody,” Mr. Hughes reported. “The bill also provides more immediate arraignment and services for juveniles offenders; expands provisions for imposing special juvenile probation in the case of murder or first-degree manslaughter; and allows courts to extend sentences for serious homicide, firearm and sexual offenses up to 60 months.”

Additionally, H.B. 5417 would allow Superior Court judges to step up electronic monitoring of juveniles who have been arrested multiple times for theft of a vehicle or other property, Mr. Hughes related.

Among the sponsors of H.B. 5417 are Reps. Craig C. Fishbein, R-Wallingford, and Geraldo C. Reyes, D-75th District, according to the legislature’s website.

After months of alarming reports about juvenile crime, Connecticut stakeholders deserved action from Gov. Lamont and legislators.

This was not the time for partisanship and political maneuvering. Accordingly, it is welcome news that Capitol policymakers came together for the greater good. 

Hopefully, H.B. 5417 soon will be passed by the full legislature and signed by the governor.

H.B. 5417 was made possible by many people.

Gov. Lamont, legislative sponsors, and Judiciary Committee members certainly deserve credit, but special applause is due the biggest hero of Connecticut’s juvenile-crime saga: Waterbury Police Chief Fernando C. Spagnolo.

Since the fall, Chief Spagnolo has been an outspoken proponent of making reforms via the legislative process.

 “(The violence) needs to be addressed, and it can’t just be the police that (do) it,” he said in September. Indeed, as the Republican-American reported Oct. 8, the chief’s commentaries were factors in Gov. Lamont coming to realize full-scale reforms were needed.

Accordingly, it is fair to say H.B. 5417 may not have come about absent Chief Spagnolo’s tenacious advocacy.

We salute the chief, and so should all Connecticut stakeholders.