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Bridgeport Detention Center: Is an 88-bed Jail the Best Plan for Bridgeport’s Young People? Fernando J. Muñiz Executive Director.

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Presentation on theme: "Bridgeport Detention Center: Is an 88-bed Jail the Best Plan for Bridgeport’s Young People? Fernando J. Muñiz Executive Director."— Presentation transcript:

1 Bridgeport Detention Center: Is an 88-bed Jail the Best Plan for Bridgeport’s Young People? Fernando J. Muñiz Executive Director

2 About the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance The Alliance was founded in 2001 by RYASAP, the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Connecticut Voices for Children and the Tow Foundation. Our mission is to promote a safe, effective and equitable service continuum for children and adolescents involved in, or at risk of involvement in, the juvenile justice system.

3 How does the juvenile justice system work in Connecticut?

4 Overview of the System 13 Juvenile Courts (Superior Court, Juvenile Matters) 3 Public Juvenile Detention Centers (Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven) Private residential facilities Community-based programs Correctional facilities Connecticut's juvenile justice system is a statewide system of juvenile courts, detention centers, private residential facilities and juvenile correctional facilities.

5 In Connecticut, delinquents are persons who, prior to their sixteenth birthdays, have violated or attempted to violate any federal or state law, order of the Superior Court, or any local or municipal ordinance. DID YOU KNOW? Only Connecticut, New York and North Carolina have 15 as the upper age of jurisdiction for juvenile matters. The other 47 states set 16 or 17 as the upper age of jurisdiction for juvenile matters. Age of Jurisdiction

6 Law Enforcement Response Initial Contact 1. Issue a warning and release the juvenile. 2. Confer with parents and release the juvenile. 3. Make a referral to a community-based organization. 4. Make a referral to formal diversion services, where available (JRB, YSB, etc.). 5. MAKE AN ARREST.

7 Decision-Making Points in the Juvenile Justice System Juvenile Detention ? Adult System ? Formal Handling ? Adjudication ? Disposition ? Make an Arrest ?

8 What is a “Detention Center,” anyway?

9 Purpose of Detention* a strong probability that the child will run away prior to court hearing or disposition, a strong probability that the child will commit or attempt to commit other offenses injurious to him or to the community before court disposition, probable cause to believe that the child's continued residence in his home pending disposition will not safeguard the best interests of the child or the community because of the serious and dangerous nature of the act or acts he is alleged to have committed, a need to hold the child for another jurisdiction or a need to hold the child to assure his appearance before the court, in view of his previous failure to respond to the court process. Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-133. In the adult system, we would call this facility a JAIL.

10 Who are the Kids in Detention? Only 21% of children in detention are serious juvenile offenders; Only 21% of children in detention are serious juvenile offenders; More than 60% of children on probation or in detention are there for violating a court or take-into- custody order; More than 60% of children on probation or in detention are there for violating a court or take-into- custody order; Almost 50% of children in detention have mental health problems; Almost 50% of children in detention have mental health problems; 65% of the children in detention have been involved with drugs; 65% of the children in detention have been involved with drugs; 78% of children in detention are African-American or Latino. 78% of children in detention are African-American or Latino. - Bridgeport Juvenile Justice Task Force “Who are the Children in the juvenile justice system? A Snapshot of the Bridgeport Juvenile Court”, 2002 “Who are the Children in the juvenile justice system? A Snapshot of the Bridgeport Juvenile Court”, 2002

11 Proposed Bridgeport Facility New courthouse for juvenile matters 44 secure rooms – expandable to 88 beds Total construction costs to exceed $55 million

12 Do we need 88 beds in the new Bridgeport Detention Center?

13 Juvenile Arrest Rates, Ffld County MurderDown 50.0% RobberyDown 42.6% Aggravated AssaultDown 32.0% BurglaryDown 69.8% Larceny/TheftDown 42.1% Motor Vehicle TheftDown 69.0% ArsonDown 77.1% VandalismDown 60.6% WeaponsDown 71.0% Drug ViolationsDown 48.6% The Property Crime Index went down 51.67% from 1994 to The Violent Crime Index went down 34.04% from 1994 to The Total Crimes Index went down 48.5% from 1994 to * Snyder, H., Puzzanchera, C., Kang, W. (2003) Easy Access to FBI Arrest Statistics Online. Available:

14 We don’t need 88 beds! According to the FBI, juvenile crime in Fairfield County has decreased nearly 50% since According to OJJDP, Connecticut’s juvenile population is expected to decrease by 2% by the year 2015* The current detention center has a capacity of 24 youth The population in Bridgeport detention has ranged from 8 to 25 youth during 2004 Average length of stay and average daily population in Connecticut’s detention centers are down over the past 5 years. OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: September 30, 1999.

15 But what if someday we need more space to accommodate overcrowding?

16 The Common Sense Test A)Run to the hardware store and buy a sump pump. B)Try to find the source of the leak. C)Take out a second mortgage and make the basement bigger to accommodate the inflow of water.

17 Expert Opinion on Expanding Detention Capacity "You cannot build your way out of overcrowding. Ultimately, how many beds you need and don't need depends on policy and program choices. Connecticut is going to be doubling its detention capacity at the same time the juvenile crime rate is going down. The supposed correlation between incarceration and reducing crime is mainly a myth." - Bart Lubow, Senior Associate, Annie E. Casey Foundation, January 2002 Annie E. Casey Foundation, January 2002


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