Arrest and Detention Under Senate Bill 94

If your child is arrested in a Colorado Juvenile Case you will quickly become familiar with a program called SB-94. It is a screening function that is used by the courts to determine the threat level of the arrested juvenile and is used to determine whether further incarceration is necessary.

What follows is a summary of the program to help parents, friends and loved ones to comprehend the Colorado Juvenile Justice System SB-94 program.

Certain crimes require the detention of accused juveniles under Colorado law. A statewide detention screening procedure called SB-94 is in place to verify the need for secure detention or to find appropriate community-based services.

Colorado Senate Bill 91-94 (SB 94) was signed into law on June 5, 1991 as the Colorado State General Assembly recognized the increasing demands for secure detention and commitment capacity for delinquent youth. This became was the start of the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections (DYC) SB 94 Program.

The General Assembly determined that developing a broader array of less restrictive, community-based services would be more cost effective than a narrow approach of building and maintaining additional state-run facilities.

Detention screening provides the initial information to determine whether a juvenile should be held in secure detention. The chief judge in each of the 22 judicial districts appoints an individual, team or agency to perform the intake screening function for juveniles taken into temporary custody.

The screener uses a statewide detention screening and assessment tool, the Juvenile Detention Screening and Assessment Guide (JDSAG).

The guide uses a decision tree format that is based on the identification of factors that contribute to a juvenile’s risk of out-of-home placement and on criteria that matches youth needs with the most appropriate placements.

Although standardized screening criteria have been developed, overrides are allowed by the screener or court. Local screeners are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Through phone or face-to-face interviews with the juvenile, law enforcement and other involved persons and agencies, screeners collect and review all relevant information possible and if secure detention is not warranted, locate the least restrictive environment for the juvenile while still providing for the safety of the juvenile and the community.

If secure detention is warranted, either law enforcement or assessment center staff transport the juvenile to the appropriate juvenile detention facility, and the parent or guardian must be informed that the juvenile has a right to a detention hearing within 48 hours.

Based on the screening, law enforcement may also be asked to transport a juvenile to a staff-secure facility, temporary holding facility, or shelter.

There are several pre-trial placement options available that include:

  • Except in the case of a mandatory felony hold, the intake screener, based on local policy may be authorized to release a juvenile to a parent, guardian or other legal custodians. The release of the juvenile may be made without restriction or upon a written promise that the juvenile will appear in court. Electronic monitoring or trackers may also be used to maintain supervision. This is often done with SB-94-funded services.
  • A shelter or non-secure facility provides temporary care of a juvenile in a physically unrestricted facility. Juveniles placed there are those whom the screener or court has assessed must be removed from, or are unable to return to their homes, but do not require physical restriction.
  • A staff-secure facility is one in which egress from the facility is controlled by staff rather than architectural barriers. These types of facilities are privately operated and provide 24-hour line-of-sight supervision of youth. The Division of Child Welfare in the Colorado Department of Human Services provides state-level services and licensing functions.
  • A temporary holding facility provides a holding area for juveniles from the time the juvenile is taken into custody until a detention hearing is held (within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays). This option is used if it has been determined that the juvenile requires a staff-secure or physically secure setting. This area is separated by sight and sound from any area that may house adult offenders. Rural areas without detention facilities are in need of this capacity. Secure detention in a juvenile detention facility is the temporary care of a juvenile in a physically restrictive facility. A juvenile may be held if the intake screener determines that the juvenile’s immediate welfare or the protection of the community requires physical restriction. A juvenile may also be admitted to a detention facility on an active warrant or mandatory hold or if a law enforcement agency requests that the juvenile be detained because the alleged act would constitute a serious or violent felony if committed by an adult.

If an intake screener has assessed that a juvenile is to be securely detained after the arrest, the court must hold a detention and shelter hearing within 48 hours, excluding weekends or holidays, from the time the juvenile is taken into temporary custody. The hearing is held to determine whether the juvenile should be released or detained further. Screeners often provide the assessment information from the screening tool at this hearing.

This more in-depth information has been gained and verified since the initial detention. At the close of the detention hearing, one of the following orders would be issued:

  1. Release to the custody of a parent, guardian, or legal custodian without posting bond.
  2. Release to the custody of a parent, guardian, or legal custodian upon posting bond.
  3. Release from secure detention with community-based supervision services.
  4. Placement in a shelter, non-secure facility or staff-secure facility.
  5. Secure detention after finding that he/she is a danger to himself/herself or the community.

In addition to the legislatively imposed detention cap, DYC also vigorously promotes ongoing detention reform through efforts to inform the understanding and development of the detention continuum by focusing on two key concepts.

The first is that detention is a status, and not a place, and the second is that detention consists of a continuum of options, only one of which is secure detention, which the SB 94 program seeks to reduce.

Despite the more than doubling of SB 94 resources dedicated to community-based treatment as funding has been restored in the past three years, this placement pattern suggests that the community-based end of the detention continuum is not yet adequate to serve all youth screened as able to go home with services.

If a juvenile is incarcerated – using the term “committed” The DYC uses the CJRA, The CJRA is a standardized, validated risk assessment that allegedly identifies a juvenile’s risk to re-offend based on multiple, proven criminogenic factors.

Using the CJRA, each youth’s unique criminogenic needs are identified by a series of questions that probe all the areas of a youth’s life that have been proven to predict pro- or anti-social behavior: family, relationships, use of free time, attitudes, behaviors, alcohol and drugs, education, employment, mental health, aggression, and skills. That is the subject of a future article.

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