Crime in Connecticut is at 48-year low, but Gov. Dannel Malloy is preparing a new panel of experts and advisors to find strategies to push down crime rates even further across the state.
On Tuesday, Malloy launched the Commission on Youth and Urban Violence, which will bring together experts and community leaders focused on reviewing the sources and causes of youth violence in urban areas. The commission’s intent is to develop proposals to reduce the rate of violent crime even further.
The announcement of the committee came in conjunction with Malloy’s release of statistics showing massive improvement in crime rates across the state.
“To make even more progress, we must reduce the risk factors that lead some youth down the wrong path, so that we can ensure our neighborhoods remain safe and productive places to live,” Malloy said in a Tuesday press release.
The commission will be tasked with exploring how current state policy regarding unemployment, access to high-quality behavioral health care, housing, juvenile justice and school discipline relate to rates of youth violence in high-crime communities. Malloy’s release added that the panel would focus on implementing new statewide interagency policies aiming to further curb youth violence.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman will chair the commission of 23 currently appointed members. In a press release, she highlighted the importance of focusing on young people specifically.
“All of us must be engaged in the work to reduce crime in Connecticut, and young people have a special role in shaping the very future of our communities and our economy,” she said.
To effectively supply children and youths with important educational resources, the commission includes a number of educators, including two Yale professors and Manuel Rivera, the superintendent of the New London public schools.
One of the commission members, Andrew Papachristos, a Yale sociology professor, said he was excited to use his academic research, which focuses on the underlying causes of crime and violence in urban areas, to contribute to policymaking. As a new resident to Connecticut, Papachristos said he also hopes to bring his experience working across the country in different kinds of neighborhoods — including many in Illinois — and task forces to help inform his discussions with the commission.
He praised the commission’s holistic approach, as the group combines discussions spanning employment, poverty, race and education to help inform their conversations regarding crime and violence.
“What we will be doing is thinking past the solution as just a criminal justice one,” he said.
The commission will work as part of Malloy’s wider efforts to combat crime across the state, advocating on behalf of a series of legislation referred to as the “Second Chance Society” proposals. Introduced last month, the legislation aims to implement better policies to assist nonviolent offenders reintegrate into society and reduce risk of recidivism.
Reduction of youth violence has been a key focus for Mayor Toni Harp. Her State of the City address on Feb. 2 spoke of her commitment to improving programs, training and activities to prevent young people from falling into lives of crime. She attributed much of the improvement on these programs to the continued and successful work of the Board of Alders and the New Haven Public Schools.