February 27, 2019

Denver, CO – This afternoon the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to advance SB19-108, Juvenile Justice Reform, a bill sponsored by Senator Pete Lee (D-El Paso County) that would reform Colorado’s juvenile justice system by utilizing research-based best practices, including validated risk assessment and emphasizing mental health while limiting detention. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee for consideration.

“Our criminal justice system is in dire need of reform, especially when it comes to juveniles,” said Senator Lee. “This bill is an attempt to utilize limited state resources for high-risk offenders and to divert low-risk kids to restorative justice treatment counseling.”

Last year, Senator Lee co-chaired the Improving Outcomes for Youth Task Force with Senator Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) and facilitated by the council of state governments, which identified a variety of major issues in Colorado’s juvenile system, including a 50 percent recidivism rate and tendency towards over-punishing children for minor offenses. SB19-108 incorporates many of the necessary changes identified by the task force and working groups of juvenile justice professionals, and will seek reforms based on evidence to divert young  Coloradans out of the criminal justice system.

“Research shows that most kids outgrow juvenile deviant behavior, and to over-supervise and incarcerate them results in worse outcomes,” added Senator Lee. “This bill will change the statewide standard for juvenile justice by shifting from punishment to rehabilitation to set our youth up for improved outcomes and better futures.”To learn more about SB19-108, please visit https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-108.