When a juvenile in Colorado makes a poor decision that leads to criminal charges, it is generally preferable for them to receive the help they need to reform, rather than face punitive consequences. To this end, the Juvenile Justice and Prevention Act of 2002 was enacted to improve the juvenile justice system in Colorado and reduce the level of juvenile delinquency in the state. There are several main components of the Act.
Under the Act, if a juvenile commits an offense that is not considered a criminal offense for an adult, the juvenile cannot be held in a detention or correctional facility for more than 24 hours, except on weekends and holidays. Moreover, adjudicated status offenders cannot be placed in such facilities for any length of time. Offenses that may fall under this provision of the Act include truancy, runaways or minors who possess alcohol. The state must make an effort to reduce the proportion of juvenile minorities detained in secure facilities.
In addition, juveniles held in an adult jail must be separated from adult inmates; the juvenile cannot be permitted to hear or see the adult inmates. Juveniles facing criminal charges can be held in an adult jail for up to six hours for processing purposes. This is for the benefit of the juvenile, who could be victimized or overwhelmed if held in adult jail. Moreover, adult facilities do not have the accommodations to manage juveniles, and it has been shown that detaining a juvenile in an adult facility does not deter further delinquencies.
The Juvenile Justice and Prevention Act of 2002 is meant to benefit juveniles who may be too immature to understand their actions or who have made poor choices but still have due process rights and deserve to have the proper treatment and safe detainment. A criminal defense attorney can provide more information about the Act and how it may apply to their client's situation.