The Colorado Juvenile Justice System
In Colorado, as in many states, the juvenile justice system is decentralized. The primary exception is the operation of most detention centers and facilities for long-term commitment of juveniles. Following is an overview of the state juvenile justice system structure.I. Structure and Function of the Juvenile Justice System A. Law Enforcement
In Colorado there are three primary types of law enforcement agencies: sheriff’s departments, municipal police departments, and the Colorado State Patrol. Their structure and function are as follows:
Sheriff’s Departments: Per state statute each of the 63 counties in Colorado has a sheriff who is elected every four years. The sheriff is responsible for maintaining a county jail, providing civil and criminal paper service, responding to requests for service in their county outside of the municipalities, and investigating criminal cases. Funding for sheriff’s departments is provided by the county.
Municipal Police Departments: A municipality may elect to have a police department to answer service calls within the boundaries of the municipality. Police chiefs are hired by city managers or city councils; they are not elected officials. Generally they are not responsible for housing prisoners although many do so for short periods of time pending release or transfer to the county Jail. There are 177 municipal police departments in Colorado.
Colorado State Patrol: The Colorado State Patrol is a division of the Department of Public Safety. Its major responsibility is to patrol state highways for traffic violations, accident assistance and investigations. The administrative office is located in Denver; there are regional command sub-stations located throughout the state. The State Patrol routinely turns juvenile cases over to local police or sheriff’s departments.
Generally, the responsibilities of law enforcement for juveniles in Colorado include:
Taking juveniles into temporary custody, without an order of the court, when there are reasonable grounds to believe that a delinquent act has been committed.
Responding to an issuance of a warrant from the court to take a juvenile into custody.
Responding to child protection issues and concerns, as requested, including search warrants for the protection of children and emergency protection orders.
Issuing a summons to appear in court in response to an alleged violation of a municipal ordinance or traffic law.B. Intake/Screeners
The chief judge in each of 22 judicial districts in Colorado appoints an individual or agency to perform intake/screening functions for juveniles taken into temporary custody. There is significant variation in each district regarding the structure of the intake/screening function. The function of the intake/screener is to locate the least restrictive environment for juveniles that have been taken into temporary custody while still providing for the safety of the juvenile and the community. In 1992, Colorado statute was amended to require the development of a common assessment instrument and criteria for detention and release decisions. However, variations from the criteria may be approved by the court, and indications are that the common criteria are not always used.
Responsibilities of the intake/screener include, but may not be limited to:
- Interviewing the juvenile and involved persons and agencies.
- Arranging for the least restrictive holding environment for the juvenile, while still providing for the safety of the juvenile and the community.
- Reporting the finding of the screening process to the court at the detention hearing.
State law created the Colorado Department of Human Services on July 1, 1994 to manage, administer, oversee, and deliver a variety of human services to residents of Colorado. The Department combines the former departments of Social Services, Institutions along with the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division formerly of the Department of Public Health and Environment. The state’s Medicaid program, formerly located in the Department of Social Services, is now in another newly created Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. Today, the Department of Human Services is comprised of more than 7,100 county or state employees dedicated to providing human services to Colorado residents. It provides services through 63 county or district departments of social services, two state Mental Health Institutes, 10 Division of Youth Services facilities, 28 vocational rehabilitation offices, three regional centers for persons with developmental disabilities, and five state and veterans’ nursing homes. In addition, the Department contracts with 17 community mental health centers, 20 community centered boards, and numerous other community-based public and private providers.
Responsibilities with regard to delinquents and status offenders include, but are not limited to:
- Out-of-home placement.
- Emergency protection as ordered by the court.
- The provision of short-term shelter care for youth who are not in need of secure detention.
Status offenders in Colorado are considered, by statute, to be dependent or neglected children. Despite the frequent use of the term “status offender” in this document, there are no provisions specifically for status offenders in the Colorado Children’s Code.D. District Attorney
A district attorney is elected in each of 22 judicial districts in Colorado. Judicial districts may include between one and seven counties, depending on the area of the state. The state pays a base salary to the district attorney; all other operating expenses are provided by the county or counties making up the judicial district. The function of the district attorney’s office with regard to alleged delinquent juveniles is to determine whether the interests of the child or the community require that further action be taken.
Responsibilities with regard to juvenile offenders include, but are not limited to:
- Reviewing law enforcement case referrals, and making a decision to file a delinquency petition, refer the case to a diversion program, request an informal adjustment, and/or direct file in criminal court.
- Prosecuting delinquency cases.
In Colorado, diversion may occur at both the pre-filing and post-adjudication level. Many (but not all) district attorneys operate juvenile diversion programs, which typically serve pre-filing juveniles. Many other private non-profit agencies operate juvenile diversion programs; typically these agencies serve mostly post-adjudicated juveniles, often referred by the probation department. The state provides some funding for diversion programs; additional costs are provided by counties and/or private fund raising and grants. Diversion is legally defined as a decision made by a person with authority or a delegate of that person which results in specific official action of the legal system not being taken in regard to a specific juvenile or child and in lieu thereof providing individually designed services by a specific program.
The goal of “diversion” is to prevent further involvement of the juvenile or child in the formal legal system. “Diversion” of a juvenile or child may take place either at the pre-filing level as a alternative to the filing of a petition or at the post-adjudication level as a adjunct to probation services following an ad judicatory hearing or a disposition as a part of sentencing. “Services” include, but are not limited to, diagnostic needs assessment, restitution programs, community service, job training and placement, specialized tutoring, constructive recreational activities, general counseling and counseling during a crisis situation, and follow-up activities. Juveniles eligible for services in state-funded programs are those who have been taken into temporary custody more than once for crimes, which constitute a misdemeanor or once for a crime, which constitutes a felony.F. The Judiciary
Each of the 22 judicial districts in Colorado has district and county courts. Funding for their operation is provided by the state; facilities are provided by the county or counties in the judicial district. Except for Denver, which has a separate juvenile court, juvenile courts are a division of the district court. Unless otherwise provided by law, the juvenile court has jurisdiction, including but not limited to, proceedings concerning:
- Any child committing a delinquent act.
- Any child who is neglected or dependent (includes status offenders).
- Legal custody of a child.
- Treatment or commitment of a mentally ill or developmentally disabled child under the court’s jurisdiction under other provisions.
- The Interstate Compact on juveniles.
- Petitions filed pursuant to the “School Attendance Law of 1963”.
- Petitions for review of need for placement.
When a decision is made to detain a juvenile who is taken into temporary custody, state law requires that a detention hearing be held within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays. If a delinquency petition is filed by the district attorney, the case may proceed through an advisement hearing, (in some cases) a preliminary hearing, an ad judicatory trial, and a sentencing hearing. Plea-bargaining may occur during this process, and deferral of adjudication is an option of the court. The Colorado Children’s Code contains provisions for mandatory sentence offenders, repeat offenders, violent offenders, and aggravated juvenile offenders.
There are also municipal courts in each city in Colorado. These courts hold proceedings regarding the violation of municipal ordinances and traffic laws. Within the last several years, there has been a trend in Colorado for municipalities to pass ordinances, which cover certain less serious delinquent acts. When a juvenile is apprehended for the violation of a municipal ordinance, the consequence is a summons to municipal court, where the juvenile may be fined or put on municipal diversion or probation, if they exist.G. Probation
In Colorado, probation (except municipal probation) is part of the Judicial Department. There are Probation Officers in each of 22 judicial districts that conduct pre-sentence investigations, and supervise probationers. The court establishes the terms of the probation. The probation department, by statute, is to use all suitable methods, including counseling, to aid each juvenile under their supervision, and to perform other duties in connection with the care and custody of juveniles as the court may direct. Operationally, the probation department collects restitution, may refer the juvenile to a diversion program, and may operate or refer a juvenile to a community service or work program. A probation officer has the powers of a peace officer and may have both adult and juvenile caseload responsibilities.H. Division of Youth Corrections
The Division of youth Corrections is located in the Department of Human Services. The Division is involved in the juvenile justice system at the front end, through the provision of secure detention services to juveniles taken into temporary custody, and at the back end, through the operation of training schools for committed youth. In addition to holding pre-adjudicated juveniles, DYC detention centers also hold youths sentenced to detention, return commitments, some status offenders, committed youth awaiting community or secure placement, and some dependency and neglect cases pending alternative placement. With regard to committed youth, the Division is mandated to operate facilities necessary for the care, education, training, treatment, and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. The Division may operate and/or contract for secure and community-based services. Community placement must be approved by a juvenile community review board.
The Division of Youth Corrections also contracts with rural temporary holding facilities, which may hold juveniles needing staff-secure (sometimes physically secure) placement until the detention hearing. The temporary holding facilities assure that juveniles will not be held in adult jails prior to a detention hearing. Because of the distances to juvenile detention facilities, temporary holding facilities offer a local alternative to transporting juvenile’s long distances only to have to return them to the county within 48 hours. DYC operates juvenile facilities throughout the state, and is building or planning for the construction of several new facilities. Finally, DYC is also responsible for managing the state alternatives to detention and corrections program authorized by the legislature in 1991 as SB94. The legislature funded this program after determining that alternative programs might be more cost effective then the building and operating of additional facilities.
The goal of the program is to reduce the average daily population of youth in DYC facilities. In the most recent fiscal year, SB94 alternative placements helped DYC meet approximately 62 percent of its ADP goals. Of the statewide ADP goal of 1,098 youth for detention and corrections combined, there were actually 1,236 youth held in DYC residential programs. This compares to 1,468 projected youth held on an average daily basis had SB94 not been implemented. Additional progress is anticipated in the years ahead as SB94 projects work to focus more directly on the appropriate populations.I. Youthful Offender System
The Youthful Offender System (YOS) is operated by the Colorado Department of Corrections rather than the traditional system through the Division of Youth Corrections. The intent of this program is aimed at serious juvenile offenders who have been directly filed in the district court as adults, but are diverted upon sentencing to the YOS program rather than placed directly in adult facilities. In 1996, Colorado’s Children’s Code was amended to expand direct file provisions by adding certain crimes to the list for which juveniles 14 years and older may be subject to direct file. A juvenile may be sentenced to the YOS for a determinate period of not less than one year nor more than five years and a mandatory period of parole supervision for a period of one year.
Upon successful completion of the programs in the YOS, including the mandatory period of supervision, the sentence to the Department of Corrections shall have been completed. Whenever a person is returned to the district court for revocation, the court shall impose the original sentence following the revocation of the sentence to the YOS. During any period of incarceration under the YOS, privileges including, but limited to, television, radios, entertainment systems, cigarettes, and access to snacks shall not be available for a youthful offender unless such privileges have been earned. YOS is not available for class 1 or 2 felonies or some sexual offenses. The YOS is under the direction and control of the Executive Director of the Department of Corrections (DOC). The DOC must implement a procedure for the transfer of an offender to another facility for vocational or training services or when an offender in the system poses a danger to himself and has been convicted of a Class 3 felony and has attained the age of eighteen (18) years.
The YOS opened in 1994 and is subject to adjustments pending legislative and gubernatorial support of recommendations made by the General Assembly. Testimony provided to the Joint Budget Committee of the GA indicated that the YOS is only slightly more effective in reducing recidivism then traditional correctional methods, but may work better for more serious offenders. The program will be adjusted to focus on the serious population type. The mission of the YOS program, “. . . is to provide offenders with a controlled and regimented environment that affirms dignity of self and others, promotes value of work and self-discipline, and develops useful skills and abilities through enriched programs.” A system schematic of the YOS is provided in the appendix.II. System Flow A. Temporary Custody
Juveniles may be taken into temporary custody by law enforcement officers when a lawful warrant has been executed or without a court order if reasonable grounds exist to believe that a juvenile has committed a delinquent act. A delinquent act is defined as a violation of any federal or state law, county or municipal ordinance, or lawful order of the court, except non-felony state traffic, game and fish, and parks and recreation laws or regulations. Temporary custody does not constitute an arrest or initiate a police record.B. Notification Procedures
Once a juvenile is taken into temporary custody, a parent, guardian or legal custodian must be notified in a timely manner by the law enforcement officer. The responsible person must be informed that the juvenile has a right to a hearing within 48 hours if placed in detention. A decision is made at the detention hearing whether the juvenile is to be detained further.C. Intake Procedures
Intake is the first step in the processing of juveniles. At this time, a decision is made whether a juvenile will be held in custody or released. The chief judge in each judicial district appoints the intake screener. The screener then decides if the juvenile should be released to a parent, guardian, or other legal custodian, or admitted to a detention, temporary holding, or shelter facility pending notification to the court and a detention hearing. However, the Children’s Code allows for a mandatory felony hold at the request of a law enforcement agency.
Detention Facility: Detention is the temporary care of a juvenile in a physically restrictive facility. A juvenile may be held here 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 if a law enforcement agency requests that the juvenile be detained because the alleged act would constitute a felony if committed by an adult.
Temporary Holding Facility: This type of facility provides a holding area for juveniles from the time the juvenile is taken into temporary custody until a detention hearing is held, 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, which houses adult offenders. Law enforcement and screeners must follow detention criteria.
Staff Secure: A staff secure facility, in which egress from the facility is controlled by staff rather than architectural barriers is a viable option.
Shelter Facility: A shelter provides temporary care of a juvenile in a physically unrestrictive facility. Juveniles placed here are those whom the court has assessed must be removed from their homes for their immediate welfare, but do not require physical restriction.
Release to Parents: Except in the case of a mandatory felony hold, the intake screener is authorized to release a juvenile to a parent, guardian, or other legal custodian. The release of the juvenile may be made either without restriction or upon a written promise that the juvenile will appear in court.D. Detention Hearing
If an intake screener has assessed that a juvenile is to be detained after his arrest, the court must hold a detention hearing within 48 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and court holidays, from the time the juvenile is taken into temporary custody. This hearing is held to determine whether a juvenile should be detained further. If the juvenile is released, the court defines the conditions under which release is granted.
Closing of Hearing: On conclusion of this hearing, the court must issue one of the following orders:
- That the juvenile be released to the custody of a parent, guardian, or legal custodian without posting of bond.
- That the juvenile be placed in a shelter facility.
- That bond be set and the juvenile be released upon posting of bail.
- That bond not be set and the juvenile be detained without bail after finding that he/she is a danger to himself/herself or the community.
If a court orders continued detention of a juvenile and before the case may
proceed to court adjudication, a petition must be filed by the district attorney within 72 hours alleging the juvenile is delinquent and stating the facts which bring him under court jurisdiction. The juvenile is then held pending a hearing on the petition.Informal Adjustment
The district attorney may request of the court either before, during, or after the filing of a petition that a case be handled as an informal adjustment. The purpose of an informal adjustment is to promote rehabilitation of a juvenile without a charge against him. An adjustment may extend up to six months. During this period, the child and responsible person are counseled and provided guidance to promote rehabilitation. The court may also place the juvenile under the supervision of a probation department or other designated agency. A juvenile who has previously had an informal adjustment, or who was charged with a delinquent act in the preceding twelve months, will not be granted another informal adjustment. These juveniles and others, who are not diverted elsewhere, must proceed to an advisement hearing.E. Juvenile Diversion Programs
If a district attorney decides not to process a juvenile through the legal system, the juvenile may be referred to a diversion program. The Legislature authorized the establishment of juvenile diversion programs to provide community-based alternatives to processing juveniles through the formal juvenile court system. Juveniles may be sent to a diversion program as an alternative to:
- Filing a delinquency petition (pre-filing diversion).
- Proceeding through an ad judicatory hearing (pre-adjudication diversion) when the court considers whether the allegations of a petition are supported by sufficient evidence.
- As part of the disposition of a juvenile adjudicated delinquent (post-adjudication diversion).
Diversion programs include services of diagnostic needs assessment, general counseling, specialized tutoring, community service, job training and placement, substance abuse treatment, restitution, supervision and follow-up activities. Juveniles eligible for state-funded diversion programs are those who have been taken into temporary custody more than once for crimes, which constitute misdemeanors, or once for a crime, which constitutes a felony. A juvenile’s record will be expunged if he/she abides by the diversion program requirements.
However, if the diversion program is not completed, the juvenile may be sent back to court or a delinquency petition filed. Before admission to a diversion program, the juvenile must admit guilt to the offense and sign a contract agreeing to the terms of diversion. In diversion, a juvenile is intensely supervised for the duration of the contract. Therefore, a juvenile does not become immersed in the legal system, and will not be adjudicated delinquent if further crimes are not committed and terms of the contract are honored. If the juvenile is arrested for committing another offense, the original charges are usually filed with charges for the new offense.F. Advisement Hearing
The advisement hearing is the first hearing after a petition has been filed. At this time, the court advises the juvenile and the responsible person of their constitutional and legal rights. The juvenile or his/her legal guardian may request counsel or the court may appoint counsel.G. Preliminary Hearing
A preliminary hearing is conducted to determine whether probable cause exists to believe that the delinquent act declared in the petition was committed. The district attorney or the juvenile accused of a delinquent act may request and be granted a preliminary hearing if the act is a felony or a class 1 misdemeanor. A written motion for a hearing must be filed not later than ten days after the advisement hearing and scheduled within 30 days of the filing of the motion. If a juvenile is being held, a hearing is scheduled as promptly as the court’s calendar permits.
PROBABLE CAUSE: If the court determines that probable cause exists, this finding is recorded and an ad judicatory trial is scheduled. A delinquency petition is dismissed and the juvenile is discharged if probable cause does not exist. A request for review of the preliminary hearing findings may be filed by any interested party.H. Adjudicatory Trial
At the adjudicatory trial, the court considers whether the allegations of the petition are supported by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
Not Guilty: If the juvenile is found not guilty, the court dismisses the petition and discharges the juvenile from any previous detention or restrictions.
Found Guilty: If the juvenile is found guilty, the court then proceeds to sentencing or directs that a separate sentencing hearing be scheduled.I. Sentencing Hearing
If a juvenile offender is found guilty, the court will hear evidence to determine the disposition which best serves the interests of the juvenile and the public. Such evidence is to include, but not be limited to, a social study or other reports relating to the child’s mental, physical, and social history. Unless waived by the court, the court’s probation department or other agency designated by the court conducts a pre-sentence investigation. Upon closure of a sentencing hearing, the court may decide to: (a) continue the sentencing hearing; (b) order the juvenile to be placed out of the home; (c) grant a deferral of adjudication, at which time the court may place the juvenile under probation supervision; or (d) commit him/her to the Department of Youth Corrections.K. Youth Offender System (YOS) III. Service Network
The following is a description of state and local programs operated outside the formal juvenile justice system which are designed to impact directly on or complement delinquency reduction, control, or prevention. This description does not include every agency providing services to juveniles; rather it highlights some of the notable efforts now occurring in Colorado.A. Department of Human Services
Aside from the detention and corrections programs operated by the Department of Human Services in its Division of Youth Corrections, there are a number of additional programs operated within other divisions, which work with delinquent and status offending youth.
The Family Centers Unit of the DOHS funnels state and Federal funds to communities for the support of multi-purpose family centers and family preservation programs. Families seeking assistance to resolve a variety of problems can turn to local family centers for services and referral to other community and state run programs. The DOHS’ Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division is responsible for providing prevention, intervention, and treatment services to youth and adults with substance abusing diagnoses. ADAD works in collaboration with other juvenile justice agencies, especially in the prevention arena, because of the overlapping risk factors between drug abuse and delinquent activity. The Mental Health Services Division also participates in providing services to delinquent and at-risk youth, and collaborates with other agencies in the development of prevention programs.B. Interagency Prevention Council
The Interagency Prevention Council (IACP) is managed by the state Department of Local Affairs, and involves as participants all state agencies, which work to prevent abuse, delinquent, crime, or other anti social behavior. Participating agencies and divisions include the Division of Criminal Justice (Office of Juvenile Justice, Drug Control and System Improvement), the Division of Youth Corrections, Department of Human Services’ Mental Health Services Division and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division, Department of Education, Department of Local Affairs, and others.
The Council has been tasked by the Governor to create a comprehensive, coordinated prevention plan for statewide implementation. The primary reason for the single plan is to reduce redundancy between agencies in grant expectations of communities, to develop a single information system for planning purposes, to reduce the work required by communities to apply for funds under each agencies’ programs, and respect and utilize the significant work that occurs at the local level to develop and implement community-wide strategic plans.C. Colorado Child & Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP)
In 1989, the Colorado Division of Mental Health (DMH) received a three-year Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. CASSP, along with a number of other state and private-funded initiatives, has served as a catalyst in changing the environment for child and adolescent mental health services in Colorado. The CASSP system of care philosophy has provided a common ground for agencies concerned with services for children and adolescents who are severely emotionally disturbed. The Division of Criminal Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice, is working with CASSP programs in four communities.
The grants, funded under the JJDP Act formula grants program, will allow recipient agencies to develop plans for a neighborhood-based system of care addressing the mental health needs of disadvantaged youth and their families. The focus on disadvantaged, urban neighborhoods will present a unique opportunity to advance the delivery of culturally competent, family-oriented services to ethnic minority families.D. Youth Crime Prevention Initiative
Youth Crime Prevention Initiative (YCPI) is a state funded program, operated out of the Department of Local Affairs, which distributes monies to communities, neighborhood groups, and local not-for-profit agencies for the reduction of violence. In 1997, the appropriations process of the legislature has recommended an increase in funding for this program to $8.0 million. The monies are used to fund programs which community leaders feel will effectively ameliorate violence and reduce crime and delinquency. Communities are free to choose the model they wish, and the programs are therefore diverse in intent and focus.E. Colorado Children’s Trust Fund
The Children’s Trust Fund is supported by an appropriation from the legislature with the intent of developing an early childhood approach to healthy youth. The focus of the program is ages 0 to 4. The monies are used for immunization programs for infants and young children, parenting training, healthy baby visitations, and other similar programs.F. Senate Bill 94
In 1991, the Colorado Legislature passed S.B. 94 to address the issue of overcrowding of detention and institutional facilities in the state’s juvenile justice system. S.B. 94 authorized funding of community-based pilot programs for juvenile offenders. This legislation provides a means for strengthening the system of care at the local level. Current funding for SB94 is approximately $10.0 million.G. The Colorado Trust
The Colorado Trust, a not-for-profit trust funded through the consolidation and sale of Colorado hospitals, is a very active partner in the violence prevention arena. In 1996, the Trust dedicated several million dollars over five years to implement the Minneapolis-based Asset approach to developing healthy youth. The Trust will be funding two communities as pilot sites in year one to test the asset initiative, and follow up with nine additional communities. Evaluation, training, and technical assistance will all play prominent roles in the initiative. The Trust has also funded a risk-focused approach to violence prevention for several years. Under this initiative communities are able to compete for dollars designed to identify factors, which place a youth at higher risk of committing violent acts, and develop strategies to alleviate the risk.F. Wrap Around Program (WRAP) Initiative
In 1996, the legislature appropriated $500,000 to be competed for by communities throughout the state for the purpose of developing Wrap Around Programs for youths who are at risk of some type of out-of-home placement. After a three-year successful trial in Mesa County, the program has expanded to nine communities this fiscal year, and is expected to expand to additional communities in the coming year. The dollars are used by local, interagency community evaluation teams (CET) to identify creative strategies for circumstances in which a youth can be diverted from detention or other out of home placement, but there is no mechanism for accessing or developing the alternative. In Mesa County, for example, the program funds have been used to hire school trackers, provide respite care for foster parents, provide babysitting services to allow for the operation of home based businesses, and more.
None of the services covered by WRAP are supported by existing social service or juvenile justice program dollars. The only significant eligibility requirement, aside from the development of a community evaluation team, is a dollar for dollar unobligated local match. The program is quite new, so its efficacy is still undetermined, but based on the successes in Mesa County, it is anticipated that the program will provide significant cost savings compared to residential care and reduce the number of youths placed out of home.IV. Demonstration of Accountability Based System of Sanctions
The Innovative Local Law Enforcement and Community Policing Program requires demonstration of an accountability based system of sanctions (or a plan to develop such a system) in the description of the state juvenile justice system section of the three year plan. This is presented to fulfill that requirement. Colorado has developed, through serendipity rather than a long-term strategic plan, a rather comprehensive system of accountability for every offense committed by juvenile offenders in the state. Although the system is fragmented and difficult to demonstrate, research of the Children’s Code and court processes conducted by DCJ reveals an elaborate system of checks and balances.
“The General Assembly hereby finds that the intent of this article is to protect and improve the public safety by creating a system of juvenile justice that will appropriately sanction juveniles who violate the law. The General Assembly further finds that, while holding paramount the public safety, the juvenile justice system shall take into consideration the best interests of the juvenile in providing appropriate treatment to reduce the rate of recidivism in the juvenile justice system and to assist the juvenile in becoming a productive member of society.”
This preamble will guide policy decisions made by the legislature in the years ahead. The Children’s Code also provides for a rather sophisticated system of sanctions for every act for which a juvenile is found to be delinquent. Further, that system is graduated in its response to juvenile crime, although there is consensus among system professionals and observers that more diverse responses are required. The Children’s Code also clearly delineates the process by which sanctioning occurs. An abbreviate version of the code is demonstrated in the flow chart presented here. A more thorough description of this process was presented above in the justice system section of the plan.The Process
- Detention Hearing within 48 hours
- Petition Filed within 72 hours from detention hearing
- Advisement – 30 days of summons
- Preliminary Hearing
- Entry of plea within 45 days from petition
- Adjudicatory Trial – within 60 days from plea
- Sentencing -within 45 days from adjudication
Source: Colorado Children’s Code