By Sawyer D’Argonne
Substantial changes could be coming to how Colorado handles youth offenders next year.
Last week the Improving Outcomes for Youth Statewide Task Force released a series of recommendations to strengthen the juvenile justice system, increase public safety and develop better outcomes for youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. The recommendations — which are expected to be drafted into bills and introduced in the 2019 legislative session — revolve largely around diverting youth away from incarceration, and establishing research-based standards for eligibility into diversion programs and juvenile probation.
“Putting children in confinement should be a last resort,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper, who created the task force. “These policy recommendations are data-driven, practical proposals that will improve our state’s juvenile justice system. I commend the task force and urge lawmakers to consider these measures in the next legislative session.”
According to the report, published by The Council of State Governments Justice Center after months of research, Colorado currently lacks any centralized approach to tracking diversion participation, services and outcomes. Without any meaningful systems for evaluating diversion data, hundreds of juvenile offenders may be doing time unnecessarily.