The Superior Court for Juvenile Matters and Detention Center is on Broad Street in Hartford. Kelan Lyons / Connecticut Public

The Connecticut Justice Alliance (CTJA), an advocacy organization dedicated to ending youth criminalization, released its first comprehensive report about how Connecticut treats children who are accused and convicted of a crime.

The State of Justice Report for 2023 and 2024, the first of its kind, highlights how the mental and physical wellbeing of Black and Brown children who have spent time in correctional facilities at a young age are affected.

The report focused primarily on the benefits of removing children under the age of 18 from adult prisons throughout the state.

Christina Quaranta, executive director of Connecticut Justice Alliance, said kids in the criminal justice system can spend a while in correctional facilities waiting for sentencing, which prevents them from having access to education and other rehabilitative programs.

“That’s problematic in terms of, you’re not able to actually access anything to help you move forward. So you’re spending months a year plus incarcerated without access to something that’s going to help you progress,” Quaranta said.

The Connecticut Justice Alliance believes kids should be placed in facilities closer to home to help them adjust back to normal life outside of the criminal justice system. The report suggests taking this approach can help stop the school to prison pipeline.

Quaranta said that Connecticut could do better when it comes to addressing the root cause of why kids and teenagers commit crimes.

“When children go back [to correctional facilities] a third, or fourth time, we really need to figure out what’s going on. Otherwise, we’re just going to remain in a cycle,” she said. “If we could take a step back and just look with a wider lens, take this issue as a public health issue and try to address it in that way, that’s what Connecticut needs to move forwards.”

The report addressed how much the state currently spends on incarcerating Connecticut’s youth. According to Connecticut Justice Alliance, these high costs highlight the need to shift towards resources that prioritize healing and rehabilitation rather than punishments.

Currently, Connecticut spends between $842.06 and $1,520.01 per day and per bed on youth detention.

“In facilities located in the Bridgeport and Hartford regions, the cost is as high as $1,347 per day, at an average stay of 184.92 days,” the report said.

“One of the lesser known facts about Connecticut when CTJA talks with people is that Connecticut arrests 10 year olds. CTJA will be pushing for the minimum age of arrest to be at least 12 years old, with a goal of 14 years old,” the report said.

This story was first published Nov. 8, 2023 by Connecticut Public.