An inexcusable and costly failure to fund juvenile review boards

For years, legislators sang the praises of juvenile review boards, because community-based JRBs helped kids succeed more frequently– and more cheaply – than the juvenile justice system. But when the General Assembly moved juvenile justice from one state agency to another, it neglected to move the funding for JRBs that serve our largest cities. That means fewer second chances and fewer essential services – mainly for young people of color and from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our state frequently cannot find the money to support these youth, though the funding for the more expensive strategies of prosecution and even incarceration is never in short supply.

Edsall nepotism deal gutted the ethics code and should be rescinded

Since 1994, state ethics rulings have made clear that supervision of one family member by another is prohibited by the Code of Ethics. A recent amendment to the Code, which took place in darkness in the waning days of the legislative session, turned that on its head. The Office of State Ethics was not consulted about this change or its broader ramifications.

Eliminating transcripts draws the shades on government a little more

Continuing their effort to draw the shade over the window of government accountability and transparency, General Assembly leaders have abandoned the longstanding practice of routinely transcribing the testimony presented at hundreds of public hearings held during legislative sessions. The decision, made without the benefit of public input, marks the latest setback for Connecticut’s 43-year-old Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which was once the strongest in the nation and a model emulated by other states and countries.

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.