The Denver Post
Colorado is closing two youth detention centers after the number of kids being sent to such locked facilities dropped to levels not seen since 1998.
The closures come as the total number of youths in the detention system dropped 32 percent, from 1,480 to 1,000, since 2006.
"That's a pretty dramatic shift in youth corrections," said John Gomez, state youth corrections director. "It is good news. There are fewer kids going to detention."
The reduction in Colorado juvenile detentions follows a national trend, Gomez said.
He credited programs that identified substance abuse, delinquency and familial problems earlier with reducing the number of youths entering the juvenile justice system.
The Division of Youth Corrections will close the 20-bed Sol Vista Youth Services Center in Pueblo and the 24-bed Marvin W. Foote Youth Services Center in Englewood.
The Sol Vista building, which is on the grounds of the Colorado Mental Health Institute, will be used for a substance-abuse program.
Youths now at Sol Vista will be transferred to other detention centers, and those at Marvin W. Foote will go to Mount View Youth Services Center in Jefferson County.
Reggie Bicha, executive director of the Department of Human Services, said the state will try to place employees in vacant department or state positions.
The decrease in the number of kids going to secure youth facilities also happened as the state moved more kids out of locked facilities and into private community-based residential programs.
Youths who primarily have a substance- abuse issue are getting treatment at a community facility instead of going to detention, he said.
"The right kids get the right level of intervention," he said.
Officials are weighing the risks that kids pose to the community and making decisions whether to send them to detention or treatment based on those assessments, Gomez said.
"We don't want to over-incarcerate kids," he said.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Thursday, October 06, 2011
The Denver Post