The national spotlight is on Colorado this week concerning Juvenile Justice Policy Reforms and specifically juvenile life without parole. The Colorado 48 who are serving life without parole are awaiting decisions in their individual cases and the first Colorado Supreme Court decisions after hearings this past June. While many think that it is a difficult and complex issue I want to present another view.
I believe that the reason Colorado legislators are dragging their feet has more to do with politics than it does adhering to the constitutional rulings of this nation's Supreme Court. Colorado legislators have always bowed the knee to aggressive prosecutors and lobbyists. Legislators will seek (and are more concerned with) the opinion of prosecutors and back down from any legislative reform if it appears they will meet opposition. Colorado legislators and the Governor are more concerned with the political climate than they are with the law, with justice and with the lives of the people who are impacted by their decisions.
The changes that have been made in California to their incarceration, rehabilitation and juvenile justice policies came as a result of three reasons: California was broke and so were the people, their prisons had reached dangerous capacities and the people DEMANDED change.
While the Supreme Court rulings in the state of Colorado are supposed to be based on case law and the constitution, we have seen examples in other states where the law and constitution was of no consequence. HOWEVER, we CAN require that juvenile justice reforms and just sentencing practices that adhere to the recent constitutional rulings DO become policy by DEMANDING CHANGE.
I want to thank Campaign For Youth Justice, National Juvenile Justice Network, Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition, The Pendulum Foundation and all those who are working tirelessly to bring reform to this issue. The change will come.....but it will take all of us standing and requiring that our government DO it!
Please read this article from Law Week Colorado to understand the battle that is happening in this state for juvenile justice reform Two Years, No Cert, More Confusion
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