Statement from Vera President Nicholas Turner in Support of Juvenile Justice Reforms Proposed by Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy

New York, NY – Governor Malloy’s announcement today that Connecticut will lead the nation in the conversation about how best to respond to young adults who come into conflict with the law is a significant step forward in aligning justice policy with what a growing body of evidence tells us about young people’s development. Already a leader in criminal justice reforms that have resulted in safer communities, Connecticut’s first-in-kind response to young people demonstrates a commitment to continued progress. As we learn more from evidence-based research and international examples, we can and should rethink the status quo.

Research has only recently demonstrated what may seem like common sense: adolescent brains and decision-making capabilities are not fully formed by age 18. We can now look to other countries that have long had systems in place for young adults, as we saw firsthand during our recent tour of German prisons with Governor Malloy. In order to truly move from a system rooted in retribution and punishment to one that prioritizes rehabilitation and the protection of human dignity, we must reconsider a “one size fits all” approach, particularly with the people in our justice system who have the most ahead of them. 

The Vera Institute of Justice is proud to have worked with Connecticut to raise their age of juvenile jurisdiction in 2007 from 16 to 17, and I have every confidence that the rest of the nation will benefit from this important conversation on how we can ensure that young people receive the second chances they deserve.