Keeping Colorado Kids in Custody Safe
Fifty children held at the El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch in Pueblo, Colorado were finally rescued on September 26, 2017, when the Colorado Department of Human Services pulled its license. The children involved were uniquely vulnerable, disabled community members.  According to CDHS's own investigation, in August of this year, one child escaped and hopped a freight train for a several hour ride, fleeing bullying, kids stealing others' food because they were hungry, lack of medical attention and staff refusing to break up fights between kids.  Instead, staff would tell these kids to move the fight out of view of the facility's security cameras.

This month, staff failed to give a high-needs kid all of the child's prescribed medication, and that child had an unexplained burn on his or her body.   Also this month, a child who functions at a level below his or her chronological age who was supposed to be under one-to-one staff supervision crawled out a window and was gone for an hour before being found.

CDHS noted that more than one child has attempted suicide at El Pueblo. One such child was supposed to be under one-to-one staff supervision as a result.  However, the next day, that staff member was supervising five other children in addition to that child.

This month it also came to light that a staff member pulled a child's hair, scratched the child and elbowed and kneed the child's body. As well, staff punched this child in the mouth. This happened out of range of the facility's security cameras.

When a gravely disabled child rolled on the floor and banged his or her head on the floor, staff couldn't help until an administrator gave permission to intervene. This permission was denied for 25 minutes and during that time the child bit his or her own arms and legs and chewed and ate the skin, resulting in bleeding wounds.  Staff asked again for permission to intervene. The administrator refused to give it. Staff tried to call a different administrator, but got no answer.  Finally, the staff member simply cleaned and bandaged the wounds despite the lack of administrative permission.

Children at El Pueblo consistently say they are hungry and some children have suffered significant weight loss during their time in the residential program.

This isn't the first trouble at El Pueblo.  In 2013, the ACLU succeeded in shutting down the facility's so-called "reflection cottages," when it proved that El Pueblo was keeping kids in solitary confinement in them, which violated DHS regulations.

Former residents of El Pueblo talked about the conditions there on the day the facility's license suspension was announced.  One former resident described life there as "hell."  Another said that when children misbehaved, staff "would threaten our meals against us, saying 'well you won't eat tonight.' That was their way of punishing us."   One day after the residential program at El Pueblo lost its license, the day treatment program's license was also suspended.  

Colorado kids in custody have the right to a safe environment that protects and promotes their well-being.  They shouldn't be starved. They shouldn't be tortured. They shouldn't be endangered.  We need to make our voices heard.  

Access the full CDHS Order of Summary Suspension HERE.
Save the Date for our 6th Annual Excellence in Juvenile Defense Conference!

Join us April 26-27, 2018 at the Ralph Carr Judicial Center in Denver

We are partnering with the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel (OADC) and the Colorado Office of the Child's Representative (OCR)  to bring you another two-day, multi-track (including a specialized Juvenile Training Immersion Program track)  Excellence in Juvenile Defense Conference on April 26th and 27th, 2018!

Session topics will include:
  • Challenging Client's Statements  
  • Competency
  • Dealing with Difference
  • Defending Juvenile Sex Cases
  • Detention and Placement Issues
  • Direct File and Transfer Cases
  • Education Advocacy 
  • Immigration
CJDC Community Survey

We want to hear from you!  At CJDC, we value your feedback and want to align our priorities, policy initiatives, training offerings, and avenues of support with our membership and community.

Please take a few minutes to respond to our short 10-question survey to help us continue to ensure excellence in juvenile defense and justice for all children in Colorado!

The CJDC Community Survey will be open through October 20, 2017.  You can access the survey HERE.
3rd Edition Colorado Juvenile Defense Manual Coming Soon

In 2013, we published the first  Colorado Juvenile Defense Manual which included 26 chapters on topics ranging from first appearance to school interrogations to special education. In 2015, we added 129 pages of information, including new chapters on expungement, sex offender registration and deregistration, and school discipline cases. We are updating the manual once again!
Many thanks to OADC, our manual co-sponsors who are working hard to make a 2018 release possible!

Community Events and Training
RTD Youth Transit Pilot Project

The City and County of Denver is partnering with the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to gain a better understanding of the transportation needs for Denver youth.  1,500 Denver high school students, ages 14-18, will be provided with a MyRide Smart Card preloaded with bus/rail fare, which can be used for all regular RTD bus rides, Call-n-Ride, SkyRide and rail services.   Find out more about the RTD Youth Transit Pilot Project HERE.

Health, Equity & Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline In Colorado Webinar

October 2, 2017
Register HERE

The webinar will focus on PJU's nationally recognized work to end racial disparities in discipline by eliminating suspensions and expulsions for routine behavior issues and limiting the role of police in discipline. Students of color in Colorado are 2-3 times more likely to be suspended and expelled than white students. We will also explore impacts on undocumented students, review recent district data and trends, and consider policy and advocacy tools.

Partnering with P&As to Improve Educational Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System Webinar

October 3, 2017
Register HERE

An estimated 30-50% of those in the juvenile justice system are identified as youth with disabilities.  Learn about the role and function of P&As, the scope of their investigation authority, and how litigators can use and request P&A reports and investigations as part of their litigation strategy.

23rd National Symposium on Juvenile Services

October 8-12, 2017
Orlando, FL
Register HERE

The National Symposium on Juvenile Services is a forum that brings together the leadership and direct care professionals from juvenile services for training, networking, and to share innovative program service approaches being implemented within the juvenile justice system.

LYRIC Volunteer Training

October 20, 2017

Learn the intricacies of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments, earn 2 CLE credits, and make an active difference in a young person's life.

Interested? Join the LYRIC mailing list by emailing

The Interstate Compact for Juveniles (ICJ): What it Means for Runaway Youth Webinar

October 23, 2017
Register HERE

The ICJ poses special challenges for courts when a youth comes before them who has run away from home and crossed state lines. Learn what the ICJ is and what to consider when dealing with runaway or homeless youth.

Serving LBQ/GNCT Youth in the Justice System Webinar

October 24, 2017
Register HERE

Over 40% of girls in the justice system are lesbian, bisexual, questioning, gender nonconforming, or transgender (LBQ/GNCT), and 85% of these girls are of color. This webinar will share existing research and provide information about successful programs that serve this population. 

Rural Experience: Opioid Crisis in the San Luis Valley

November 1-3, 2017
Register HERE

As a part of efforts to bridge the resource gap in rural Colorado, the Community Resource Center is launching the Rural Experience. This is a new opportunity for statewide leaders to learn from and engage with rural community members most affected by the opioid and addiction crisis in the San Luis Valley and Southern Colorado more broadly.  

CJJ Virtual Youth Summit 2017

November 11, 2017
Register HERE

This virtual gathering will enable individuals ages 24 and younger to gather remotely, regardless of location, to engage in a conversation and learning experience with their peers. Learn more about juvenile justice, what it is, and how to get engaged. Join the CJJ and explore ways young people can collaborate and lead juvenile justice reform. 

Persuasive & Effective Trial Skills

November 29, 2017
12:30-5:00pm or 5:00-9:30pm
Learn more HERE

At this training, participants will learn: how to develop the theory & organize from pre-trial to closing; Pozner's chapter method of cross; how to find and maximize your style and use a notebook; how to plant seeds during voir dire and build credibility.
Free Training & Technical Support 

As a Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) provider for the Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), CJDC is one of two locations in the nation acting as a regional resource center for juvenile defenders.  If you are looking for training support, have a training need in your area, or in need of assistance in developing specialized CLE offerings for juvenile defense counsel, you can request assistance through OJJDP's TTA program HERE.
Help Support CJDC Through Workplace Giving
CJDC is proud to partner with Community Shares of Colorado in workplace giving campaigns. Making charitable donations via paycheck contributions is a convenient option that allows incremental gifts to add up over the course of a year.   A paycheck contribution of $1 a day or $5 a week adds up to $260 annually!


Contact Community Shares to help you get started by phone 303.861.7507 or by email, CJDC's community shares number is 5214.

Resources & Juvenile Justice in the News

Stay up to date with these resources and recent headlines on juvenile justice issues, policy, programs, and reform in the news.
"Large, distant and correctional youth prisons should be abolished as a construct in the landscape of American juvenile justice, and should be replaced by a rigorous continuum of in-home services, supports and opportunities for youth... when young people need to be deprived of their liberty, it should be done in small, rehabilitative programs close to their homes and home communities- and for only as long as is needed to meet the ends of justice, public safety, and rehabilitation."

"Youth across the United States are held in juvenile detention facilities while awaiting trial in juvenile delinquency proceedings, despite the fact that detention is often both unnecessary and harmful to a child's mental health and development. This article endeavors to reduce this practice by positing an argument that children and their defense attorneys can use to oppose detention: that such detention implicates parental due process rights, and thus requires a judicial inquiry into why the government, acting as parens patriae, can supersede the parent's custody. The article surveys the parental liberty interest and the landscape of pre-trial detention in the juvenile justice system, explains how parents' liberty interests are implicated in the decision to detain, and lays out a three-part recommendation for reform."

"Recent numbers released by the Justice Department show a drop in overall youth incarceration rates in the United States. But a closer look at the data shows a widening gap between black and white youth confinement. Criminal justice reform advocates say a heightened police presence in communities of color - despite little difference in crime rates between black and white youths - is to blame."

"To become a champion of racial equity and social justice takes more effort than one might think. As a culture, we laud individuals with good character, attributing such virtue as a necessary component to ending the inequities that afflict society. We rely on our intuitive wisdom that tells us, 'If you want to make a difference in this world, be a good person!'"

Marshal worked with his former school district and the staff at the Youthful Offender System, to create a follow up educational video against drinking/smoking and driving. This video was filmed at he beginning of summer by Douglas County School District at the Youthful Offender System in Pueblo. It was released by the district during homecoming time to build awareness and encourage others to make good choices.

In partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Judges and the State Justice Institute, the National Juvenile Defender Center published a benchcard for ensuring  fair and just treatment for LGBTQ-GNC people  in juvenile court.

The National Debate Over Undocumented Youth, DACA 
Both Youth Today and the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange have been covering the changing fate of Dreamers since before the Dreamer program began. Myriad articles, photographs, and videos exploring the DACA program are accessible on the JJIE website.

"Denver education and community leaders launched a how-to guide to help more schools implement 'restorative practices,' an alternative to traditional discipline methods that seeks to improve school culture, eliminate racial disparities and end the school-to-prison pipeline. 
The  44-page guide, 'School-Wide Restorative Practices: Step-by-Step', was crafted by the Denver School-Based Restorative Practices Partnership, a coalition of groups including the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, youth and parent group Padres & J√≥venes, Denver Public Schools and the National Education Association."
Thank You!

Thank you to our Youth Justice Advocate Sponsors: The Cuneo Law Firm, Lindy Frolich, Stinson & Pagett LLC, Ann Roan, The Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, and Linda Weinerman and Sheri Danz on Behalf of the Office of the Child's Representative for your continued support of CJDC and our programs.