Gardner Moves to Reform Division of Youth Corrections

Denver--Today, the Senate agreed to Senator Bob Gardner's (R-El Paso County) proposal offering reforms to the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC).

Senate Bill 17-289 aims to keep DYC staff and younger inmates safe by providing the Division the option to transfer inmates between the ages of 18-21 to the Department of Corrections, if the offender has committed a dangerous, secondary offense while in custody. 

DYC inmates can be as young as 10 years old, and older inmates who continue to commit crimes--such as possession of a deadly weapon, a crime of violence, or possession or distribution of a controlled substance--create an unsafe environment for the younger children who work toward a path of rehabilitation. 

SB 289 works in conjunction with another Republican-sponsored piece of legislation carried by Senator Kevin Priola (R-Brighton) which repeals a mandatory sentencing requirement for juveniles under the age of 12 who have been convicted of misdemeanor crimes. House Bill 17-1207 and SB 289 alleviate the burden on the Division, while helping to create a climate conducive to rehabilitation by ensuring a safe environment for staff and detainees.

DYC reports 188 children under the age of 12 have been placed in detention centers since 2014. Over the same time period 56 serious assaults were committed by individuals in DYC facilities. These bills provide much needed reform to the Division, ending an unsafe culture that can encourage repeat offenses. 

"What we continue to see in DYC is an unsafe environment for staff and for younger detainees in which older inmates between 18 and 21 continue to commit increasingly violent and troubling crimes, but are not transferred to DOC," said Gardner. "Providing the option to transfer these adults to the appropriate facility will help staff continue their work to get more of these juveniles on a path to rehabilitation." 

SB 289 will be heard once more in the Senate.

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