2015 Legislative Session

CJDC engages in non-partisan research and legislative advocacy. For more information contact CJDC’s Juvenile Policy Director, Hannah Proff at hannah@cjdc.org, 720-639-6576. CJDC is tracking and/or engaged in the following bills:

Competency

House Bill 1025,sponsored by Representative Rosenthal and Senator Newell, would have established a new definition for competency for children and youth, which would have differed from the adult definition, in that it would have included mental capacity/developmental immaturity.

Status: this bill was postponed indefinitely by the House Judiciary Committee on February 26th, 2015.

CJDC supports creating a definition of competency that includes developmental immaturity, particularly for younger children (who can be as young as 10 years old in our juvenile court system).

Child Protection Ombudsman

Senate Bill 204,sponsored by Senator Newell and Representative Singer.  Currently, the office of the child protection ombudsman operates within the department of human services, with the administration of the program and office awarded by the department through a contract. The bill removes the office from the department and moves it into the legislative branch, specifically into the Office of the State Auditor, with oversight by an independent 15-member board. Representatives from the judicial, executive, and legislative branches shall appoint members to the board.

Status: passed and signed by the Governor on June 2, 2015.

Division of Youth Corrections

House Bill 1131, sponsored by Representatives Esgar & Lee and Senator Lambert, would require DYC to release information regarding critical incidents at facilities so long as that information is redacted to exclude any identifying information, any information concerning security procedures or protocols, and any information that would jeopardize the safety of the community, youth, or staff.

Status: passed and signed by the Governor on May 8, 2015.

CJDC continued to monitor DYC’s budget requests and need for additional staff to keep youth in facilities safe without the use of solitary confinement or other harmful techniques. CJDC co-signed a letter with the Colorado ACLU and Legal Center concerning these practices.

Electronic Harassment

House Bill 1072, sponsored by Representative Fields and Senator Newell, expands the harassment statute to prohibit a person from directly or indirectly initiating communication with a person anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, telephone network, data network, text message, or social media messaging with the intent to harass them, threaten them with bodily injury of property damage, or make any comment, request or proposal that is obscene.

Status: passed and signed by the Governor on April 24, 2015.

This bill is an improvement over last year’s proposal that would have created a cyber-bullying crime that would have only applied to adolescents.

Human Trafficking

House Bill 1019Sponsored by Representative Lundeen and Senator Woods, would require a human trafficking task force to consider bills for 2016 that may provide immunity for adolescents under the age of 18 charged with prostitution based on the affirmative defense that they are victims of human trafficking. 

Status: passed and signed by the Governor on May 29, 2015.

Senate Bill 30,Sponsored by Senators Carroll and Cadman, would create an affirmative defense to the crime of prostitution for victims of human trafficking, and make it easier to expunge/seal records.

Status: signed into law by the Governor.

CJDC supports the de-criminalization of victims of human trafficking.

Juvenile Life Without Parole

House Bill 1292sponsored by Representatives Kagan and Lee, would provide a new sentencing range for juveniles convicted of class 1 felonies.  The judge could choose between a determinate range of 24 to 48 years followed by a mandatory 10 year-period on parole, or impose a sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 20 calendar years, based upon a list of factors.  This sentencing range would apply to juveniles currently serving life without the possibility of parole, and future cases after July 1, 2015. 

Status: pulled by House Sponsor prior to House Judiciary Committee, bill postponed indefinitely.

CJDC is a member of the Colorado Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children, find out how to get involved at www.fairsentencingforkids.org

Petty Offenses

House Bill 1022, sponsored by Representative Beth McCann and Senators Steadman and Cooke. HB 1022 is a Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice bill that would permit police departments to create a “petty ticket” procedure whereby juveniles accused of petty offenses have the option to enter into a behavioral contract with law enforcement. If the juvenile satisfies the conditions of the contract, the prosecuting attorney shall not file charges with the court.

Status: passed and signed by the Governor March 19, 2015.

CJDC supports the de-criminalization of less serious offenses for children and youth.

Police Procedures

Senate Bill 58,sponsored by Senator Guzman and Representative Kagan, requires all Colorado law enforcement agencies to implement eyewitness identification policies that have been scientifically proven to reduce the chances of misidentification. The Innocence Project reports that Eyewitness misidentification is the leading contributor to wrongful conviction, nationally, playing a role in 72 percent of such cases overturned by DNA evidence.

Status: passed and signed by the Governor April 16, 2015.

Public Defender

House Bill 1160sponsored by Representative Lawrence & Senator Roberts, would require that the court (instead of the public defender) make determinations of indigence.

Status: bill was postponed indefinitely on March 3 in the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 1101, sponsored by Representatives Lawrence & Fields, would make records of the public defender and alternate defense counsel subject to the Colorado Open Records Act, providing more access to the public on information regarding representation of juveniles by those agencies.

Status: bill was postponed indefinitely on February 12 in the House Judiciary Committee.

Restorative Justice

House Bill 1094, sponsored by Representative Lee and Senators Cooke & Newell, adds members, to the Restorative Justice Council, including a public defender. The bill also authorizes grant funding for restorative justice and allows a pilot project to accept juveniles who committed petty offenses or municipal offenses that could be charged as state offenses.

Status: passed and signed by the Governor on March 20, 2015.

CJDC supports restorative justice programs, particularly as an alternative to formal juvenile court processing.

School Discipline

House Bill 1273, sponsored by Representative Lawrence and Senator Newell, adds sexual assaults and the unlawful use of marijuana on school grounds, in a school vehicle, or at a school activity or sanctioned event to the current list of conduct and discipline code violations that a school is required to report as part of the safe school reporting requirements. Incidents of sexual assaults must only be reported in the aggregate, without any identifying information. The bill clarifies that the term “law enforcement” includes school resource officers. The division of criminal justice (division) shall compile and report on the number of arrests, summons, and tickets that occurred on school grounds and the court dispositions of those cases. The division shall prepare a retroactive report using the best available data for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. In 2011, the general assembly created a task force to study and assess practices and statutes concerning zero tolerance practices in schools and the interaction of school discipline practices with the juvenile justice system. In 2012 the general assembly passed House Bill 12-1345, which contained requirements for law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to annually report contacts with students, effectively documenting the school-to-prison pipeline. The scheduled post-enactment review of House Bill 12-1345 will now include a review of this bill, including a review of the report to be compiled by the division. The post-enactment review of House Bill 12-1345 is extended to 180 days after the 4-year anniversary of the passage of this bill.

Status: passed and signed by the Governor on June 5, 2015.

House Bill 1240, sponsored by Representative Fields, aimed at reducing student contact with law enforcement, would have encouraged each school district to enter into a memorandum of understanding with each municipal law enforcement agency and each sheriff’s department with jurisdiction over at least one school of the school district to minimize students’ contacts with law enforcement agencies and courts as disciplinary responses to school incidents.

Status: passed the House of Representatives, then was postponed indefinitely by the Senate State, Veteran, Military Affairs Committee on April 8, 2015.

Senate Bill 213, sponsored by Senators Cadman & Scheffel, Representatives Hullinghorst & Duran, allows school districts and charter schools to be held liable if they fail to exercise reasonable care in protecting students, faculty, or staff from reasonably foreseeable acts of violence while at the school or engaged in school activities. The bill applies only to incidents of school violence that include certain crimes, consisting of murder, first degree assault, and sexual assault. While school districts and charter schools may be held liable under the bill, individual teachers, administrators, and other employees may be held liable only if their acts or omissions are willful and wanton. The bill provides an exception to the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA) when a school district or charter school is negligent in this duty. Expulsion or suspension of a student does not by itself support a finding of negligence. (As reported by the Colorado School Safety Resource Center).

Status: passed and signed by the Governor on June 3, 2015.

Senate Bill 214sponsored by Senators Cadman & Scheffel, Representatives Hullinghorst & Duran, created a school safety and youth mental health committee to: Study issues relating to school safety and the prevention of threats to the safety of students, teachers, administrators, employees, and volunteers; Study and evaluate programs and methods for identifying and monitoring students in crisis; Develop standardized criteria for school personnel to use in assessing the potential threat posed by one or more students; and make recommendations to the education committees of the general assembly. The committee shall meet at least 4 times each legislative interim and may meet as necessary throughout the year. Each appointing party shall make his or her appointment or appointments to the committee on or before June 1, 2015.

Status: Signed by the Governor on June 3, 2015.

Shackling

House Bill 1091, sponsored by Representative Lontine and Senator Merrifield, would have required each judicial district to review best practices and establish a policy regarding the shackling of children in juvenile court.

Status: passed House of Representatives subsequently postponed indefinitely by the Senate, State, Military & Veterans Affairs Committee on March 25, 2015.

CJDC supports ending the practice of indiscriminately shackling children and youth in juvenile court.

Truancy

Senate Bill 04sponsored by Senator Jahn and Representative Primavera, authorizes CASA volunteers in truancy cases.

Status: Signed by the Governor on May 29, 2015.

Senate Bill 184sponsored by Senator Holbert and Representative Fields, in its original form, this bill would have removed juvenile court jurisdiction from truancy petitions, bill as amended now requires the chief judge in each judicial district to create a committee to study the use of detention and alternatives to detention in truancy cases, and then report to judiciary committees of the House and Senate in 2016. 

 Status: Signed by the Governor on June 5, 2015.

Youthful Offender System

Senate Bill 37, now Senate Bill 182, sponsored by Senator Garcia and Representative Navarro, would have given the Department of Corrections discretion to move an inmate under the age of 24 into the Youthful Offender System, and change the time period for evaluating YOS from 2 to 5 years.

Status: Signed by the Governor on May 1. 2015.

CJDC supported amending this bill to (1) provide earned time for youth and young adults already at YOS, because other inmates moved into YOS will be eligible for earned time; (2) increase statutory eligibility for YOS instead of making transfers under DOC discretion.  CJDC has concerns about conditions of confinement at YOS and reservations about increasing the population at YOS until these issues are addressed.