Connecticut Invests Millions in Youth Offender Mental Health Programs

Connecticut is investing millions of dollars into mental health programs for teenagers and young adults in juvenile detention with the hope that they will keep these young people out of the criminal justice system long-term, Emilia Otte reports for the Connecticut Examiner.

In 2023, the state paid $3.2 million four organizations contracted by the state judicial branch to provide mental health services for juveniles based on a type of treatment called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, which in recent years has become a popular technique for treating young people in juvenile detention. The technique was first used with juveniles in Washington State, where it was found to reduce violence among inmates. The state is also paying the organization Community Solutions $3.5 million to open a new residential treatment facility for adolescent girls in the juvenile justice system. Recidivism rates are rising in Connecticut, where the percentage of juveniles who have previously appeared in court five or more times increased from a low of 11.1 percent in 2019 to 15.6 percent in 2021.

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