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Officials Plan Reforms for CTJS
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Advocates have issued a new report proposing major reforms to the Connecticut Juvenile Training School.They're working closely with the state to rehabilitate the facility.

When the Connecticut Juvenile Training School, or CJTS, opened its doors in August of 2001, it was publicly scorned.

The facility was built under a no-bid contract during former Governor John Rowland's administration. Its prison-like environment and lack of positive rehabilitation went against successful models that exist in other states.

An investigation by the Attorney General led Governor Rell to announce she wanted to close of the facility by 2008, a move welcomed by state officials and Juvenile Justice advocates.

But last year, the legislature passed a law to raise the age of those admitted to adult prison from 16 to 18 by 2010. With no alternative to CTJS, it's doors will need to remain open.

Bill Rosenbeck, the superintendent at CJTS, told WNPR's Where We live, that one of the challenges they'll face will be to meet the needs of older kids coming in, while also meeting the needs of younger ones.

“We’re starting those processes right now - setting up committees, having staff input, having people from the outside come in to talk to us about that. So unfortunately, we can’t solve that issue right now, but we can really be prepared for when they come in in the future.”

Lara Herscovich, a senior analyst from the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance and author of the report, says the Juvenile system should be about rehabilitation and prevention.

“A lot of these kids could be back on track if they were treated near their communities, in ways that are more therapeutic and responsive to what’s happening with their entire system, within their entire family, within their entire community.”

The report calls for "Community" programming that would focus on smaller groups. Programs include substance abuse treatment, job coaching, and parental skills development and child care for teen parents.

Herscovich adds that not all the money for the programs has been allocated, but she hopes it will be in place by 2010.