Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy wants his state to consider treating young offenders as juveniles until they are 21 years old, a cutting-edge reform proposal, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. “You can commit a nonviolent offense at 17 without a criminal record, but if you’re 18 and you commit the same crime, it lasts a lifetime,” Malloy said at the University of Connecticut School of Law. “If we are to acknowledge that we know a one-size-fits-all approach to criminal justice hasn’t worked, that permanent punishment hasn’t worked, then let’s think about changing the artificial barriers we’ve imposed to get it right,” he said.
A successful bid to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from age 17 to 20 would build on Connecticut's existing push for juvenile and criminal justice reforms. The state is considered a leader in juvenile justice reform. Malloy said the state should consider reforms for young adults through age 25, including confidential case hearings, record sealing and expungement. Research on adolescent brain development has helped shape the juvenile justice reform movement, including in Connecticut. Reformers have been guided by research that says teenagers are different from adults, with a greater capacity for rehabilitation.