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Sen. Hwang: Legislation Cracks Down on Ongoing Threats to Schools

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With school threats taking place this week in Ansonia, Norwich, and South Windsor, Sen. Tony Hwang noted that legislation passed earlier this month by the Connecticut General Assembly aims to make schools safer in Connecticut.

The legislation, which was passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate, increases the penalties for when a threat involves a preschool, K-12 school or an institution of higher education.

“Clearly, Connecticut needs to get tougher,” said Sen. Hwang, “These threats have a devastating impact on the psyches of parents, educators and students. In a school environment, this is absolutely, positively unacceptable. If someone does commit such a despicable act, they should face severe penalties. Those penalties should bring the punishment more in line with the crime.”

  • By law, 1st degree threatening includes threats to commit a violent crime, or a crime using a hazardous substance, with intent to cause, or with reckless disregard of the risk of causing, (1) evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or public transportation facility; (2) serious public inconvenience for hazardous substance crimes; or (3) terror. The bill increases the penalty for such 1st degree threatening, from a class D felony to a class C felony, if the threat was made with intent to cause the evacuation of a building or the grounds of a public or private preschool, school, or higher education institution during instructional hours or when the facility or the grounds are being used for school- or institution-sponsored activities. By law, a class D felony is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. A class C felony is punishable by imprisonment for one to 10 years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • By law, a person is guilty of 2nd degree threatening when he or she (1) by physical threat, intentionally places or attempts to cause someone to fear imminent serious physical injury or (2) threatens to commit a violent crime with intent to terrorize someone or in reckless disregard of the risk of doing so. The bill increases the penalty for this crime, from a class A misdemeanor (punishable by imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of up to $2,000, or both) to a class D felony, if the threatened person was in the building or on the grounds of such a school facility during instructional hours or when the facility or the grounds is being used for school- or institution-sponsored activities.
    The new legislation has an effective date of Oct. 1. It awaits the governor’s signature.

Sen. Hwang said local school superintendents, law enforcement officials, and concerned residents from across Connecticut supported the measure.

Sen. Hwang (www.senatorhwang.com) represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport.

Attached photo:

Sen. Tony Hwang (right) was joined by the Reidy family of Newtown on Feb. 26 at the State Capitol to raise awareness about the need for safe schools legislation in Connecticut. Safe Schools legislation has been approved by the state legislature now awaits the governor’s signature.