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We sat down with attorney Jill Ruane to discuss her thoughts on the treatment of mentally ill juveniles in the state of Connecticut. If you have further questions concerning anything in this article, you can contact us here or, check out Lady Juvenile’s website.
What privileges do adults with mental illnesses get in Connecticut adult court that juveniles do not get in juvenile court?
To begin, it is important to clarify that juvenile court is a different legal process than adult court. That being said, in adult court, people with mental illnesses have access to Connecticut’s Supervised Divisionary Program (SDP). This program gives adults with mental illnesses more consideration than youthful offenders with mental illnesses receive. There is no similar program for youthful offenders in Connecticut. The only way that mental illness is considered for minors is if their attorney advocates for them and discloses this information during the negotiation. Unfortunately, many times prosecutors are not receptive to mental illness.
What is the Supervised Divisionary Program?
The SDP is legislature that was written into law a few years ago. The court realized that there was a high concentration of nonviolent mentally ill men in jail. This was a concern at the time, as jails were overcrowded. The state sought to address these high numbers and create a program to get mentally ill criminals court intervention in order to keep them out of jail. The SDP mimics the accelerated rehabilitation program, which is fairly similar.
How are the accelerated rehabilitation program and the supervised divisionary program different?
Some of the main problems in the accelerated rehabilitation program are addressed and corrected in the SDP. For example, the accelerated rehabilitation program only allows people to participate if they no prior criminal history. You can also only use the accelerated rehabilitation program once. The SDP focuses on a longer process of rehabilitation by allowing criminals with prior records to use the program’s resources up to two times.
What are some requirements for the SDP?
In order to be eligible to participate in the supervised divisionary program, you have to commit an eligible crime. People who commit very serious crimes will not be taken into consideration for the program. The program is really geared towards poor individuals that have used illegal substances in order to self-medicate. This generally leads to crimes such as stealing, breach of peace, and possession of illegal substances. These offenders are generally not violent, but these crimes can carry jail time as a potential sentence. As an alternative to jail time, these individuals could qualify for the supervised divisionary program. You also have to be willing to submit to a CSSD evaluation and to abide by the recommendations of the evaluation if you want to be part of the program.
Why is there no equivalent to the SDP in the juvenile court system?
I think that it really boils down to a lack of education on the part of lawyers and judges when dealing with Bridgeport juveniles that have mental illnesses. Criminal behavior can be explained by mental illnesses such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, or autism. Autism is a huge one these days, because more and more people are being diagnosed with it. Even violent crimes can be explained by autism. It becomes the defense attorney’s job to educate the court on why the crime occurred, which can be difficult. The prosecutor never has direct contact with the minor. The judge doesn’t get the chance to speak to him or her for a very long time. This makes it difficult for them to understand that the child has a problem.
Can you give an example of how a youthful offender with a mental illness can be misunderstood by the court?
Take the autism example again. Let’s say that hypothetically, a teenager with autism is arrested for assaulting a sibling. To start with, this altercation could be caused by the mental illness. Kids with autism fear direct contact and have a hard time controlling themselves once they become angry. So if a sibling gets mad and grabs the autistic teen’s arm, he is going to have a bad reaction. On top of that, the illness might impact how he comes off to a police officer. He might come across as defiant or remorseless but in reality he’s just afraid and doesn’t know how to handle the situation, as people with autism are not good with social cues. Furthermore, some people with autism are literally unable to express or feel remorse. Sometimes it’s hard for police officers or prosecutors in the Bridgeport juvenile system to know if the kid has a problem and needs treatment, or if he is a smart-aleck that needs to learn a lesson.
Do you think this happens to minors with mental illnesses across the board?
Not necessarily. I definitely think that public defenders see this more than someone in the private sector. This is because rich teenagers have more access to helpful services than poor teenagers do. As a result, the poor suffer, and this leads to the problem that we had with mentally ill, nonviolent people in jail.
So what needs to change in the juvenile court system? How can we fix this problem?
For starters, people need to be educated. Judges, lawyers, and police officers that deal with Bridgeport juveniles need to have a better understanding of mental illness so that we can treat it properly. The legislature also has to change. They need to create a program for poor children that don’t have the money to combat their mental illness. By intervening at a younger age, we can help solve the problem of having mentally ill adults commit crimes.
Receiving a DUI is undoubtedly an embarrassing and difficult process to go through. It can affect not only you, but your loved ones as well. Dealing with a DUI can put a strain on your financial resources as well as your emotional well-being. If you are a stay at home mother who has received a DUI, you will not have to deal with the difficulty of explaining your actions to a boss. However, you will have to answer to those around you, including your children. This in itself can be extremely difficult.
In order to make the process of a DUI case as pain free as possible, you should look into hiring a DUI lawyer to answer questions and take some of the stress off of you. While DUI lawyers can be expensive, most law firms will offer a free consultation for you to ask any questions that you may have and get the answers that you need. Considering the amount of stress a DUI lawyer can take off of you, it might be in your best interest to hire one, even if it is a cost you weren’t expecting.
While DUI lawyers can help with the actual process of your case, you will still have to answer to your children and explain the situation to them. If you are convicted of a DUI, your license will be suspended. This means that you will be unable to drive your children to school or to after-school activities. They might not understand why their routine has suddenly changed or why you are unable to drive them places. It is important that you explain the situation to your children as best as you can. Model good behavior by complying with the consequences of your DUI and do not drive with a suspended license.
You might take on a tremendous amount of emotional strain when faced with the aftermath of a DUI. It is important to try not to get depressed as the result of your actions and instead seek to make positive changes in your life. If you find yourself extremely upset and your behavior becomes erratic, consult a professional immediately. There are people who can help you through this difficult time, and it is important to remember that you are not alone. Furthermore, if the DUI was a result of a drinking problem, it is important to seek professional help and begin a recovery program.
Financial and personal difficulties will arise as a result of a DUI. Your routine will have to change because you will not be able to drive. Furthermore, you might find that your financial situation has taken a hit. It is important that you stay positive and try to deal with these changes in a healthy manner. Come up with new routines and solutions to the problems that you face. This will help you to recover from the DUI and continue to be a role model for your children. If you are interested in reaching out to a lawyer, you can contact Ruane Attorneys here.
Receiving a DUI can be embarrassing and inconvenient no matter whom you are. However, if you are a truck driver with a commercial driving license (CDL) and you receive a DUI, you will be facing a more difficult process than the average driver on the road. As a truck driver, you will be subjected to stricter blood alcohol limits than the average person, and the consequences of getting a DUI, whether on or off duty, are higher. Fully understanding the consequences of a DUI can help you to take precautionary measures to ensure that you will not get behind the wheel after drinking.
Truck drivers and other drivers with commercial driving licenses are held to higher standards on the road than the average driver. This is due to the fact that the cargo carried in trucks and the sheer size of a truck itself can do a lot more damage on the road than a car can. Driving while under the influence can therefore be a major public safety concern, and it can make you a liability to your employer. For these reasons, receiving a DUI if you have a CDL can have serious consequences.
It is important to consider the fact that if you are a truck driver with a commercial driver’s license, you will be subjected to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) regulations concerning drug or alcohol use while driving. These regulations are most restrictive in terms of their blood-alcohol concentration limit, which is set at 0.04%, a much smaller amount than what a person without a CDL will face. The toleration for having alcohol in your system as a truck driver with a CDL is lower because of the safety risks involved with driving large trucks carrying potentially dangerous cargo. Furthermore, the FMCSA rules state that if you refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test, you will automatically be found guilty of driving under the influence.
The process of being tried for a DUI if you have a CDL is similar to that of the average person’s. You will undergo the same process as a typical driver, however you will be subjected to the lower alcohol-blood level content limit, and your license could be suspended for a longer period of time than is normal for non-commercial drivers. In addition, the consequences of receiving a DUI as someone who has a CDL can be significant. If your license is suspended, whether you received your DUI on or off duty, it will greatly affect your job. You will not be able to work and therefore your livelihood will be affected. Furthermore, you could lose your job, and having a DUI on your record will make it difficult for you to be hired by another company.
The consequences of receiving a DUI as a truck driver with a CDL are severe. You will be subjected to stricter regulations than a non-commercial driver and receiving a DUI will directly affect your ability to work. Refraining from driving under the influence is important if your livelihood depends on driving. If you have further questions, you can contact Ruane Attorneys by clicking here.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend. Here are the locations for the Connecticut State Police DUI checkpoints. Remember to be safe and avoid drinking and driving. Use a designated driver! http://www.ct.gov/dps/cwp/view.asp?A=11&Q=482240
We are pleased to announce the addition of Attorney Zach Reiland to Ruane Attorneys. Zach was with us in 2009 as an intern while he studied at Quinnipiac University School of Law. He will be in charge of our newly created civil division, focusing on post conviction and family law. His blog is at www.connecticut-divorce.com Check it out for information when you can!