CTJA, TOW Youth Justice Institute, ACLU-CT & Lawmakers Call for Data Driven Solutions to Car TheftS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug 6, 2021
HARTFORD, CT – The Connecticut Justice Alliance (CTJA), Tow Youth Justice Institute (TYJI), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU-CT,) along with community advocates and lawmakers, converged at the state capitol today to demand investment into data-driven solutions to car thefts and youth crime that don’t center on incarcerating teens.
Connecticut has seen a sharp decline since 1991 in car thefts, break-ins and vandalism committed by youth across the state. Funneling more teens into the system without an actual plan of action to support their specific needs is irresponsible. Implementing harmful blanket policies designed to “crackdown” on youth offenders does not address the root causes of this issue.
“We call for the long-term solutions of investment in youth, families, and communities over incarceration,” said Christina Quaranta, Executive Director of the Connecticut Justice Alliance. “Black and Brown communities are continuously divested in, criminalized, overpoliced, and surveilled. These actions have not increased the safety of the people in these communities or Connecticut overall.”
“It is overwhelmingly clear from the data that the 2020 increase in auto thefts correlates with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Iliana Pujols, Policy Director at the Connecticut Justice Alliance “The fact of the matter is the same juvenile justice reforms that people claim contribute to the increase in motor vehicle thefts in 2020 were in place in 2019, when Connecticut had the lowest motor vehicle theft rate on record.”
“It’s important to us that you know our position on the recent rash of misinformation currently circulating our state. It wants you to believe that car thefts are out of control,” said Erika Nowakowski, Associate Director, Tow Youth Justice Institute. “The reality is that vehicle thefts trended downward in the 26 years since they peaked in 1991 and between 1991 and 2019, Connecticut has seen a 77% decrease compared to a 43% reduction nationally. Saying nothing speaks loudly. We stand behind all of the juvenile justice reform that has taken place in Connecticut that has led to better outcomes for our youth and increased public safety.”
“As an educator and legislator I have seen firsthand how just policies, practices and funding can make a difference in the lives of all young people in Connecticut,” said Representative Toni Walker, Connecticut House District 93. “We all must dispel false hoods and all begin speaking the truth about what is available under the law for local authorities.”
“There has to be a stronger commitment from lawmakers to finding alternatives to incarceration,” said Claudine Fox, Public Policy and Advocacy Director. “There is not a crisis here we should be overreacting to. This is manufactured for political gain. We should not be over funding police to lock up our state’s children, primarily those that are black and brown.”
“The issue of juvenile car thefts demands our attention,” said Senator Gary Winfield of Connecticut “We should be paying attention to whether we are asking the right questions about the root causes so we can develop and implement the right answers. Anything less is political and dangerous.
ABOUT THE CONNECTICUT JUSTICE ALLIANCE
The Connecticut Justice Alliance (CTJA) is a youth/adult partnership working to end the criminalization of youth. The Alliance works to disrupt and dismantle the pathways that funnel children and youth into the juvenile justice system by using organizing, advocacy, and policy tools to protect the rights, futures, and well-being of potentially, currently, and formerly incarcerated youth, while also ensuring youth who are detained, incarcerated, and involved in the courts and legal systems receive safe, fair, and dignified treatment.
CTJA was formerly known as the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance.