Fewer juveniles in Colorado are being sent to state youth correction facilities. The number of juveniles placed in youth detention facilities has decreased by 44 percent during the last seven years in Colorado. Juvenile justice experts believe that the state's focus on rehabilitating juvenile offenders has contributed to the significant decrease in youths being sentenced to correctional facilities in the state.

The director of youth corrections in Colorado said that the decrease in juvenile offenders being sent to detention centers is due to the programs created to prevent juveniles from committing crimes and programs that help deter juvenile offenders from returning to youth correction facilities in the future. The director said that they are focusing on providing the proper services to keep youths out of the juvenile justice system as well as address ways to prevent former juvenile offenders from entering the adult prison system.

The decline in juvenile offenders being locked up has also been seen throughout the U.S. Juvenile justice reform advocates say that many states, including Colorado, have successfully implemented programs to decrease juvenile arrests as well as the likelihood that juvenile offenders will commit crimes in the future.

Colorado started using individual treatment plans for juvenile offenders to make sure they were addressing the needs of juvenile offenders. This allows them to receive the appropriate treatment that will hopefully help them gain valuable skills to use once they are released from the juvenile detention facility.

The juvenile justice system said that they use a risk assessment tool for all juvenile offenders to evaluate the juvenile's criminal history, substance abuse and mental health to determine if he or she has a higher risk of reoffending. Based on the evaluation, the juvenile then receives treatment for any issues that need to be addressed.

The juvenile justice system said using the evaluation tool helps them assess and treat juvenile offenders and it has contributed to decreasing the rate of recidivism by youths in Colorado. Supporters of reforming the juvenile justice system in Colorado said that it is great news that fewer juveniles are being sent to detention centers but many still want more studies and programs to help youth offenders, especially for those who end up staying in juvenile detention centers for longer periods.

Source: Denver Post, "Population dropping in Colorado youth corrections facilities," Jordan Steffen, March 3, 2013

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