The Denver Post
The state's youth corrections facilities aren't sufficiently ensuring the safety of juvenile offenders and, in many cases, aren't doing enough to prevent potential sexual aggressors and victims from being assigned to the same sleeping quarters.
That was one of several problems identified in a state audit released Monday of youth corrections facilities. The audit also found juveniles sometimes are denied due process rights in disciplinary procedures, and in one case, a facility's behavior management program actually resulted in "an environment of bullying and intimidation."
The Division of Youth Corrections is under the Department of Human Services, which largely agreed with the findings in the audit and said it had either immediately corrected many of the problems or was in the process of doing so.
The division is responsible for youth corrections programs for offenders ages 10 to 21. The agency runs 11 state-operated facilities and oversees 51 contractor-operated facilities at a cost of more than $132 million a year.
"In some cases, youth safety is compromised because facilities do not ensure that youth are placed with a suitable roommate," the state audit found. "For example, facility policies at 44 percent of facilities we visited do not prohibit potential victims and aggressors from being housed in the same sleeping room."
In addition, staff members at many facilities were either using outdated vulnerability assessment forms or weren't filling them out accurately or consistently.
Department officials noted the division does have an explicit policy preventing potential aggressors and victims from being house together. The audit did not cite any instances of sexual assault occurring as a result of problems with vulnerability assessments.
Auditors found juvenile offenders were not always given due process rights when disciplined. In at least seven cases reviewed, juveniles were locked in their rooms in violation of state law. This happened to entire housing units at times.
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.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The Denver Post