Governor’s Proposal of Confidential Trials for Young Offenders Draws Sharp Criticism

justice reform, confidential trials, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyOver the last few years, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has certainly demonstrated his commitment to criminal justice reform throughout the state. Supporters and critics alike have acknowledged his efforts in allowing the justice system to focus on corrective action and saving the harshest penalties for the most violent and dangerous offenders. In a speech last month at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford, the Democratic governor outlined additional plans to continue in that vein in the coming months. For some, however, Malloy’s proposal for confidential trials for some offenders push the limits of reform just a little too far.

Juveniles and Young Adults

There is a growing amount of research that suggests that human brain is not fully formed until a person reaches his or her mid-20s on average. The age of majority—and the age at which virtually all criminal defendants are treated as adults—in most jurisdictions is only 18. Thus, science seems to indicate, that the maturity difference between and 18-year-old and a 25-year-old is significant, especially related to criminal penalties and rehabilitation. One of Governor Malloy’s stated intentions is to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to age 21, creating additional opportunities for reform.

Confidential Trials

While many Connecticut residents may be open to a discussion about raising the age of eligibility, even if it means developing a new, intermediate court system, there has been a much larger outcry over the Governor proposal for confidential trials for defendants between the ages of 21 and 25. “We may want to consider allowing those in this age group to have their cases hear confidentially, their records sealed, and the opportunity to have records expunged,” Governor Malloy said. He went on to indicate that such an approach would keep young adults separated from adults while in prison, giving the young offenders a better chance to turn their lives around.

Public Backlash

In the days that followed Governor Malloy’s speech, there has been a great deal of concern over secret court proceedings. Even while expressing support for some of the other ideas, critics have pointed out that the Connecticut Constitution explicitly states that “All courts shall be open,” promising any person who has been wronged the opportunity to seek justice “without sale, denial, or delay.” The public, according to the proposal’s detractors, also have an interest in the administration of justice, and confidential trials would violate that interest.

Governor Malloy and the state of Connecticut have already received a failing grade from the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity regarding access to public records. An opinion piece by the editorial staff at the Hartford Courant simplified the concern into a single sentence, “Bad things happen when justice is carried out in secret.”

A Lawyer You Can Trust

If you or your young adult child has been charged with a crime, the assistance of a qualified legal professional is critical. Contact an experienced Hartford criminal defense attorney at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, today for an honest evaluation of your case. We will help you explore your options under the law and to make the difficult decisions regarding how to proceed in building your defense. Call [[phone1]] to schedule your confidential consultation.

 

Sources:

http://portal.ct.gov/Departments_and_Agencies/Office_of_the_Governor/Press_Room/Press_Releases/2015/11-2015/Gov__Malloy_s_Prepared_Remarks_Today_on_Criminal_Justice_Reform/

http://www.courant.com/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-smarter-on-crime-20151123-story.html

https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/Content/constitutions/CTConstitution.htm

http://www.courant.com/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-ct-flunks-public-records-test-20151112-story.html

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