2017 Legislative Session

Moving Justice for Youth in Colorado Forward with the Passage of Three 2017 Bills!

This legislative session brought important improvements for justice-involved children in Colorado.  HB1329, a legislative response to the Bound and Broken report, passed into law.  This bill is focused on changing the culture at the Division of Youth Corrections in the following ways:

  • DYC’s name will be changed to the “Division of Youth Services” and it’s mission will be defined as rehabilitative;
  • The bill creates a pilot program led by an independent contractor in which DYS will test out a fully therapeutic and rehabilitative model of providing care to kids.  Within one year, the program will phase out use of any punitive restraints on kids other than handcuffs-no WRAP, pain compliance or leg irons-and will never use solitary confinement.  The bill provides for independent assessment of the pilot program’s efficacy based on violence rates;
  • The bill increases transparency by requiring DYS to report publicly on use of force by staff members and gives community boards the right to access DYS facilities, including by speaking with staff and kids;
  • The bill provides for a comprehensive study by an independent consultant of DYS’s physical management practices to compare them with best practices and to make recommendations for bringing DYS’s policies and practices into line with best practices.
The lobbying and debate HB1329 engendered has created a legislative and public body that is aware of the problems in DYS, educated on national best practices and engaged in the process of transforming the Division.
HB1207 also passed this session.  That bill bans pretrial detention for 10-12 year-olds charged with nonviolent offenses.  This bill’s passage signifies an increasing awareness by lawmakers about the significant negative effects of incarcerating kids.  Economists from Brown University and MIT concluded in 2013 that “in regressions with minimal controls, those incarcerated as juveniles are 39 percentage points less likely to graduate from high school and are 41 percentage points more likely to have entered adult prison by age 25 compared with other public school students from the same neighborhood.”
HB1204, CJDC worked with the CCDB to pass this bill that makes it easier for the children of Colorado to expunge their juvenile records. The bill requires written notice of the right to expungement and of the expungement process to the juvenile. A prosecuting attorney cannot require as a condition of a plea agreement that the juvenile waive his or her right to expungement. The bill requires the court to immediately and automatically expunge records: (1) upon a finding of not guilty at an adjudicatory trial; (2) upon dismissal of the entire case; or (3) after the completion of a juvenile sentence for a petty offense, drug petty offense, class 2 or class 3 misdemeanor, or level 1 or level 2 drug misdemeanor (that is not a sex offense, does not involve domestic violence, or is not a crime that requires victim notification).  A juvenile is eligible for expungement after completion of a sentence for a class 1 misdemeanor, a misdemeanor involving domestic violence, a misdemeanor involving unlawful sexual contact; or the dismissal after completion of juvenile diversion, a deferred adjudication, or an informal adjustment; or the adjudication of a first-time felony and the adjudicated felony is not a crime of violence, is not an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior, and is not a class 1 or class 2 felony. In this second, non-automatic category, the court must notify the prosecutor that the records are eligible for expungement, and the prosecutor must notify the victim.  If there is no objection, the court will enter an expungement order. If there is an objection, the court will hold a hearing and consider whether the juvenile is sufficiently rehabilitated and whether expungement is in the best interest of the juvenile and the community.
Special thanks to the CJDC policy committee for working so hard to ensure this bill passed!