A bedroom in the intake area of CJTS. RYAN CARON KING / WNPR
A unit inside the Connecticut Juvenile Training School

State legislators eager to hear where the promised closure of the state’s controversial jail for young offenders stands were given an update Monday – and the Department of Children and Families has yet to offer an alternative solution to house and care for the couple of dozen youths who require a locked facility on any given day.

The department five months ago said it was looking into using two alternative properties owned by the state – High Meadows in Hamden or the Ella Grasso Regional Center in Stratford – but needed more time to determine whether either was feasible.

At that time, DCF officials said they were planning to host forums over the next three months to gauge options for serving some youth through private providers and have architects tour High Meadows, Ella Grasso and other properties to determine the best alternative to the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS) in Middletown.

On Monday, DCF told the human services subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee that it has not analyzed the cost to retrofit the other facilities nor has it solicited proposals yet from nonprofit community providers for help delivering care.

“We will be engaging in a collaborative process with a group of stakeholders to tour the properties with the chief architect from [the Department of Administrative Services] to weigh the pros and cons of each location and develop cost estimates in the coming months,” the agency wrote in documents submitted to the subcommittee.

The push to close the Connecticut Juvenile Training School followed criticism from national experts of Connecticut’s approach to juvenile justice and a state watchdog’s 

When releasing what it would take for DCF to refocus its effort and money on community supports instead of incarceration, the agency recommended spending $7.2 million more to shorten wait lists and open additional supports for those struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues. It also would expand vocational training and housing supports for those youths.

The governor’s proposed budget did not recommend those funding increases, cut funding for several community programs aimed at diverting youth from CJTS. Those cuts include to the School Based Diversion Initiative, the Neighborhood Youth Center, Juvenile Review Boards. He also recommends cutting funding for social workers for youth in the juvenile justice system, which would increase the caseload of the remaining workers.

Ben Barnes, the governor’s budget chief explained to the Appropriations Committee in February that the administration’s two-year budget proposal does not assume any savings from the closure of CJTS since the closure is still more than one fiscal year away.

“We don’t yet have a firm plan on exactly what the costs are going to be for whatever replaces CJTS,” Barnes said, adding, however, that they “will be no more than what the costs are there now.”

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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