Kids in the juvenile justice system have fallen through budget cracks

In the last minutes of the 2018 legislative session, we got a state budget. Legislators showed commitment and determination in reaching a bi-partisan agreement. The dust hasn’t cleared yet — there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding what got funded and what didn’t. It is all too evident, however, that even dust-settling won’t clear away a fundamental reality. Children have fallen through system cracks due to a failure to plan and budget appropriately to meet the behavioral health needs of children in and at risk for being in the juvenile justice system.

Former Speaker: Megan’s law good policy, but sometimes misused

I want to commend Tom Condon for his May 21 piece (Sex offender registry: More harm than good?) chronicling Connecticut’s sex offender registry, and for raising some provocative issues around the registry’s evolution and consequences. As chief sponsor of Connecticut’s original Megan’s Law, let me say first — unequivocally — that I believe the state’s sex offender registry is good public policy, constitutionally sound, and has done far more good than harm.

The state must stop embezzling unclaimed money

Should the state seize money belonging to Girl Scouts, without their knowledge, and give it to politicians to fund their campaigns? What about money from animal shelters, volunteer fire departments, the Red Cross, or other charities? How about all of those plus countless businesses and individuals — and maybe you? That’s happening and it’s disgraceful.

On Memorial Day, a story of false pride

On this Memorial Day, imagine this.  It’s late in the year 2007.  A company of Connecticut Army National Guard troops are stationed somewhere in Iraq, let’s say a small village called Daskara Nahr.  This village, once a hotbed of Islamic extremist activity, has been pacified and is now considered a model converted territory run by a trusted village chieftain allegedly known to be cooperative and friendly with the coalition troops assigned to stand guard duty and supervise the “Democratization program.”

Liberals, be grateful for conservative court’s ruling on sports betting

Liberals are not in the habit of expressing gratitude for the five conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, especially since one of them, Justice Neil Gorsuch, presides where some liberals believe President Obama’s nominee should rightly be. But liberals should be grateful, at least this week, in the wake of a ruling that struck down a federal anti-gambling law because the decision strengthens blue-state resistance to President Donald Trump. Moreover, it might deepen appreciation for something liberals historically dislike: federalism and the doctrine of state’s rights.

Let’s get legal sports gambling on the books

Now since the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision has struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which banned sports betting nationwide except for Nevada, states across the nation are scrambling to grab onto this judicial breakthrough by seeking to legalize sports gambling. However, we cannot be too hasty in this endeavor before proper legal statutes are established to regulate the proper way to ‘play the game.’ Aside from Nevada’s policy implementation, Connecticut lawmakers would have to quickly tend to a series of simple but tedious legal disputes.

Time to fix Connecticut’s law to exonerate the innocent

People often ask me why I am not angry about spending 17 years in prison for a crime I did not commit. I actually consider myself lucky in a way, because DNA eventually proved my innocence. However, DNA is unavailable in 90 percent of cases, and here in Connecticut it is almost impossible to overturn a wrongful conviction without it. In our state, while new DNA evidence can be presented at any time, new non-DNA evidence must be introduced within three years of a conviction.

A Supreme Court justice should be a Constitutional conservative

Kudos to Neil Gorsuch! Much has been written by the left and the right about Neil Gorsuch — from his nomination for an opening on the Supreme Court to his voting on cases brought to the highest court in the land. So far, he has been conducting himself like all justices should: keeping personal opinions to himself, and speaking for our founders with a literal interpretation of the Constitution by using the definitions of words as they were used at the time of our founding.

Promoting the health of incarcerated women and their children

Imagine giving birth. Lower back searing with pain; muscles internally twisting and seizing with each contraction; hips feel like they’re being slowly dislocated; body rocking to distract from the pain.

Now imagine all of this but in a prison cell, with metal shackles cutting into your body and questionable medical care that may heighten, rather than calm, your anxiety. For many, the word “torture” comes to mind and, for many, it would be unthinkable that this type of treatment is occurring in Connecticut — but it is.

Why we are bailing out women and girls from jail for Mother’s Day

On Sunday, May 13, approximately 1,000 women and girls will spend their Mother’s Day in York Correctional Institute, Connecticut’s prison for women. Of these people, over 300 will have no criminal conviction. They will spend Mother’s Day in jail just because they cannot afford to pay bail. Disproportionately, these women are black, brown, poor, and disabled. Many are first criminalized for acts of survival and self-defense. Most of them are mothers and caretakers, whose children endure the costs of their hardship.

Now is the time for addiction treatment solutions that work

Every fatal opioid overdose means our system has failed to provide treatment. A patient of mine — I’ll call him John — overdosed and almost died last year. After missing a visit in our addiction treatment clinic, he was brought in to the emergency department after being found nonresponsive in his car. John’s close call could have been avoided. When he had first come to our clinic months before, worn-down from years of addiction to heroin and prescription opiates, he was ready to change his life and get treatment.

Why including emerging adults in CT’s juvenile justice system makes sense

Gov. Dannel Malloy is again proposing that Connecticut become the first state in United States history to include most emerging adults – those ages 18, 19 and 20 – who have committed crimes into its juvenile court. He has also put forth a second bill that would provide confidentiality protections for low-risk emerging adults in the adult system, offering them a carrot for good behavior by erasing their criminal record if they don’t re-offend for four years. Both applied research and Connecticut’s own experience with raising the age of juvenile court suggest that the Constitution State would be on strong ground to move in the direction the administration has proposed.