Romano says the parties can no longer negotiate a remedy. Additionally, the juvenile judge's "role has been eviscerated. A judge can only choose an in-state placement. Other than that, it's up to DCF."
If the justices of the Supreme Court were offended by a loss of judicial authority, it wasn't reflected in the final Jeffrey M. ruling handed down last week. Justice Eveleigh, for a unanimous court, ruled for DCF, pointing to the new law that gives the agency first and last word on out-of-state placements.
One thing Katz and Romano agree upon is that treatment works. Juveniles, unlike many adults, respond well to the right kind of treatment for everything from fire-setting behaviors to inappropriate sexual activities.
But where the two sides differ is on whether there are currently enough in-state treatment options.
Romano, and his associate, Naomi Fetterman, say that sending all challenging cases to the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown is a "one-size-fits-all" approach. Most states send some of their most difficult cases to special out-of-state facilities, said Romano.
"Right now, the most popular facility for [addressing] fire-setting behavior is in Texas," he said. "States all over the nation are sending kids to Texas. It's been able to set up a business, essentially, and create local jobs for a fire-setting placement. Why shouldn't Connecticut set [up a similar facility]? We could provide it for in-state kids, and be able to offer this service to other states as well."
Katz has similar ideas in mind. She would like to see some former state-run facilities turned over to qualified private sector treatment providers. And on a more individualized scale, she said, specialists are being hired to provide treatment for specific problem behaviors at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School.
"It's anything but a one-size-fits-all approach," Katz said.