About Us

The Colorado Juvenile Defender Center (“CJDC”) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring excellence in juvenile defense and advocacy, and justice for all children and youth in Colorado.

CJDC believes all children and youth should experience adolescence free from over-criminalization in a just society that promotes their well-being and provides second chances. We Believe in Youth!

CJDC’s Initiatives

CJDC’s  2015-2020 strategic plan lays out five key strategic initiatives:
  • Ensure access to counsel and quality representation for juveniles charged with crimes;
  • Reduce the “collateral consequences” of a juvenile adjudication;
  • Reduce over-incarceration of children in juvenile facilities and adult prisons;
  • End the school to prison pipeline;
  • Improve conditions of confinement for juveniles.

CJDC achieves the initiatives by advocating for policy change, providing direct representation to children, and training juvenile defense attorneys to provide specialized and quality representation to youth.

CJDC’s Core Projects
The Believe in Youth Project
  • CJDC continues to represent juveniles and former juveniles who seek to expunge their records and remove their names from public registries. As part of this project CJDC files petitions to expunge and deregister for indigent clients, and provides assistance in seeking employment and further education after the juvenile record is expunged.
  • This project began in September of 2014. CJDC hired our new Equal Justice Works Americorps Equal Opportunity Fellow, Adam Graber, in the fall of 2016. Thanks to generous funding from Equal Justice Works, the Nord Family Foundation, the Denver Foundation, and the Colorado Bar Association, this project is funded through September of 2017, and we are eligible to renew the fellowship for another year at that time.
Access to Juvenile Justice: The Rural and Tribal Southwest
  • This project, funded by the DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), is examining access to specialized and zealous juvenile defense in the rural and tribal areas of the Southwest region. The project also provides training to defenders in rural and tribal areas.
  • CJDC’s Access to Justice Program Manager, Amanda Butler, oversees this three-year project, which concludes in October of 2018.
Training and Resources for Juvenile Defenders 
  • CJDC provides training to Colorado’s juvenile defenders, including our Annual Excellence in Juvenile Defense Conference. Our fifth annual conference is scheduled for April 26-27, 2018.
  • CJDC holds regular trainings and meetings for attorneys representing children charged as adults and children sentenced to juvenile life without parole, to share resources and brainstorm litigation strategies.
  • CJDC created the Colorado Juvenile Defense Manual as a resource for Juvenile Defenders.
Policy Advocacy 
  • CJDC has been a leader in juvenile justice policy advocacy in Colorado. CJDC spearheaded reforms to the way children are charged with crimes in adult court in 2012, and reforms to ensure that all children arrested and accused of crimes receive a lawyer in 2014. In 2016 CJDC championed two bills that passed to end juvenile life without parole sentences in Colorado and reduce the use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities.
  • CJDC continues to advocate for just juvenile policy through our policy committee, chaired by Hannah Proff.