The legislation increases the penalties for when a threat involves a preschool, K-12 school or an institution of higher education. Right now, calling in a bomb threat, or any kind of threat, to a school is a misdemeanor. Effective Oct. 1, the new legislation would change that, making such threats felonies, which would result in a prison sentence. The bill now heads to the governor for his signature.
“The recent threats of violence against schools highlight the need to get tougher,” said Hwang. “The devastating impact to the psyches of parents, educators and children in a school environment is absolutely, positively unacceptable. If someone does commit such a despicable act, they should face severe penalties that bring the punishment more in line with the crime. The threats in Connecticut and around the country reinforce the need to strengthen our laws in this area.”
Sandy Hook resident and parent Bernard Reidy has been a strong advocate for the legislation.
“In the more than three years since the tragedy at Sandy Hook School, more than 40 threats of violence have been made against schools in Connecticut,” said Reidy. “Many of those threats have been perpetrated by adults. These threats have become an epidemic, not only in Connecticut, but across the country. In recent months, threats of violence have forced lockdowns of schools in Stamford, Hartford, Fairfield, West Haven and Bristol.
“Schools lockdowns and evacuations can have very real and lasting consequences on the children and adults who endure them. Anxiety. Fear. A drop in self-confidence. A lack of concentration. Physical ailments. These are the immediate and long-term results that school threats cause. Connecticut’s criminal laws regarding school threats need to be updated, and I applaud Sen. Hwang and the state legislature for championing this legislation,” Reidy continued.
Hwang, who represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport, thanked local school superintendents, law enforcement officials, and concerned residents from across Connecticut for their support in backing the measure, House Bill 5400.
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