STAMFORD - Local experts and Connecticut's senators met with juvenile offenders Saturday to talk about helping kids stay out of prison.

U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy has co-sponsored a bill to increase funding throughout the country that would bolster programs intended to reduce the number of kids who end up behind bars. Sen. Richard Blumenthal says he will push to get the judiciary committee on which he sits to pass the bill.

Me'chellel Lorthe was arrested in the sixth-grade when she fought with a girl in her class. Instead of going to prison, the Stamford Juvenile Review Board helped her clear her record. Classes at DOMUS, which helps underprivileged youth, taught her how to take advantage of her second chance.

Murphy and Blumenthal say all at-risk kids need access to similar programs, and that school rules need change.

The senators also say juvenile justice reform for non-violent offenders also makes financial sense because Connecticut and many other states spend about $134,000 a year to keep each juvenile behind bars.