Citation
Diverging philosophies in the juvenile justice system

Material Information

Title:
Diverging philosophies in the juvenile justice system
Creator:
Ortiz, Caroline Jane
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
viii, 215 leaves : ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( Master of arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Political Science, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Political science

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Juvenile justice, Administration of -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Juvenile delinquents -- Rehabilitation -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Restorative justice ( lcsh )
Juvenile delinquents -- Rehabilitation ( fast )
Juvenile justice, Administration of ( fast )
Restorative justice ( fast )
Colorado -- Denver ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 211-215).
General Note:
Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
by Caroline Jane Ortiz.

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Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
43925604 ( OCLC )
ocm43925604
Classification:
LD1190.L64 1999m .O78 ( lcc )

Full Text
DIVERGING PHILOSOPHIES IN THE
JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
by
Caroline Jane Ortiz
B.S., Texas A&M University, 1986
J.D., University of Denver College of Law, 1998
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science
1999


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Caroline Jane Ortiz
has been approved
by
Tony Robinson


Ortiz, Caroline Jane (M.A., Political Science)
Diverging Philosophies in the Juvenile Justice System
Thesis directed by Professor Thaddeus Tecza
ABSTRACT
This thesis is an examination of the juvenile justice system. The history of the
juvenile justice system is traced from its inception during the 1800s and early 1900s,
through the reforms instigated during the 1960s with/n re Gault, and ending with
the current status of the dominant philosophies within the system. Specifically, the
thesis looks at the parens patriae or rehabilitative philosophy, the get tough or
punitive philosophy, and the emerging balanced and restorative justice philosophy.
These philosophies are examined as to their historical contribution to the juvenile
justice system and their current status within the system. The study ends with an
analysis of the philosophies based upon interviews I conducted with professionals
within the juvenile justice system in Denver.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
m.


DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to my incredibly supportive husband and best friend, Greg Ortiz,
for his patience, insightful input, and unfaltering belief in me during the years it took
to complete this; to my precious son, Joseph Bear, whose sunny smile and infectious
laugh always put things in perspective; and finally to my infant son, Jackson Eagle,
whose pending birth gave me the final impetus I needed to get this done.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT
My eternal gratitude to Professor Thad Tecza. I had the good fortune to take a class
from him during my first year of this undertaking and his energy and refreshing
insights provided much needed inspiration to this less than Confident student. He has
earned my utmost respect for his quick wit, constant encouragement, and seemingly
endless intelligence. His words of wisdom have helped shape my opinions on many
different subjects but it is one of his offhand remarks that I find myself repeating to
myself most often: Dont ever run to catch the bus because another will be along
soon. Thank you, Thad.


CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION...................................................1
Purpose..................................................3
Overview.................................................5
CHAPTER
1. HISTORY OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM................7
History of the Juvenile Justice System.............7
First Juvenile Court..............................15
Denver Juvenile Court...........................19
The Era of In re Gault..........................24
2. PHILOSOPHICAL MODELS OF JUVENILE JUSTICE..............33
Parens Patriae or Rehabilitative Model of
. Juvenile Justice..................................36
Get Tough or Punitive Model of Juvenile Justice.44
Balanced and Restorative Justice Model of
Juvenile Justice..................................50
Conclusion......................................57
3. DENVERS SUMMER OF VIOLENCE AND
REFORMS IN JUVENILE JUSTICE...........................59
The Summer of Violence........................61
Political Reactions.............................69
vi


The Special Session of the Legislature and the Resulting
Juvenile Laws...................................72
Results.........................................76
Conclusion......................................80
4. RECURRING THEMES IN DENVERS JUVENILE
JUSTICE SYSTEM........................................82
Lack of Resources...............................85
Collaboration...................................89
Increasing Fear of Juvenile Crime...............92
Frustration with the Legislature................95
Prevention of Juvenile Crime...................100
Need for Immediate Consequences................103
Conclusion.....................................106
5. PHILOSOPHICAL MODELS OF JUVENILE JUSTICE
REVISITED............................................107
The Current Status of Parens Patriae in the Juvenile
Justice System.................................108
The Current Status of the Get Tough or Punitive
Model in the Juvenile Justice System...........115
The Current Status of the Balanced and Restorative
Justice Model in the Juvenile Justice System...122
6. CONCLUSION...........................................126
vu


APPENDIX
A. COLORADO PROBATION: STATEMENT OF
COMMON GROUNDS..........................131
B SYNOPSIS OF REVISED COLORADO CHILDRENS
CODE....................................132
C. INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS....................160
WORKS CITED.......................................211
viu


I urge you to consider this: As you demand tougher penalties for those who choose
violence, let us also remember how we came to this sad point. In our toughest
neighborhoods, on our meanest streets, in our poorest rural areas, we have seen a
stunning and simultaneous breakdown of community, family and work; the heart
and soul of civilized society. This has created a vast vacuum which has been filled
by violence, drugs and gangs. So I ask you to remember that as we say no to crime,
we must give people, especially our young, something to say yes to. President
William Jefferson Clinton, State of the Union address (January 25, 1994).
INTRODUCTION
This is an examination of the Denver Juvenile Justice System. My interest in
this area was piqued by several incidents. First, when I was a teenager, my mother
took in a young boy who was in trouble with the law and did her best to help him. As
a result, I saw firsthand the frustrations that someone who really wants to help a child
meets when dealing with the juvenile justice system. Second, after my first year of
law school, I sought an internship with the Governors office but was rejected. As an
alternative, I accepted an internship with the Denver District Attorneys office in the
Juvenile Unit, where I represented the District Attorneys office in juvenile detention
hearings at Gilliam Youth Center. This internship provided me with an invaluable
experience with the juvenile system from a prosecutorial viewpoint. I had the
opportunity to meet with many juveniles in the system, study hundreds of juveniles
case files and observe their families reactions to the system. I also had to look into
1


the eyes of children in chains1 while people who knew next to nothing about them
decided their future. I think it is one indication of the current state of the system that
I was allowed to make rather important decisions about these childrens future when I
did not have any idea what I was doing. Third, I took the Juvenile Law course at the
University of Denver Law School. This class involved the study of the Colorado
juvenile court system and the laws affecting juveniles and was taught by Judge Dana
Wakefield, who was then the presiding juvenile judge in Denver and one of the
architects of the revised Colorado Childrens Code.
Finally, beginning in January of 1998,1 have worked with Jim Covino, a
criminal defense attorney. He is extensively involved with the juvenile justice system
in Colorado, sits on the Colorado Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Council, serves as Alternative Defense Council for juveniles and has been involved in
creating the new Juvenile Drug Court in Denver. Last fall I served an internship with
him focusing entirely on juvenile law.
I have had the opportunity to see the inside of a small part of our juvenile
justice system. This glimpse of the juvenile justice system convinced me of the
importance of understanding this system that deals with one of the most significant
responsibilities that any society bears, helping its children.
1 Children being held in detention are transported and appear at hearings in court while wearing
chains on their wrists and ankles.
2


Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to examine the philosophical underpinnings of the
juvenile justice system, how that philosophy has evolved through the history of the
system, and how diverging philosophies have influenced the Denver Juvenile Justice
System. It will consider the diverging philosophical trends in juvenile justice and
how these philosophies affect the treatment of juveniles. These philosophies include
parens patriae (rehabilitative), get tough (punitive), and a balanced restorative
model for the treatment of children who come before the court. Finally, this paper
will examine the recurring themes within the current juvenile justice system in Denver
as well as the current status of the three philosophies mentioned above.
The educational goals for my masters thesis include gaining an overall
understanding of the juvenile justice system as well as comprehensive insights into the
workings of the juvenile justice system as it is applied in Denver. I am interested in
exploring the philosophy upon which the system was founded, how that philosophy
has evolved and diverged through the years, and how it is affecting the juvenile justice
system today. I hope to gain a full enough understanding of our juvenile system in
Denver to enable me to formulate my own theories concerning reform of the system
3


and to put those theories to the test through my own work in the juvenile justice
system.
My hypothesis is that the foundation of the juvenile justice system is the
parens patriae or rehabilitative philosophy and that the current political and societal
popularity of the get tough or punitive philosophy is a reaction to an increasing
awareness of the problems facing the juvenile justice system including the fear of outr
of-control juvenile crime and the apparent inability of the system to curb such crime.
The balanced and restorative justice model of juvenile justice, in which the needs of
the child, the victim and the community are addressed on an equal basis, may be
viewed a viable option to the apparently opposing philosophies of parens patriae or
get tough.
The conclusion I reach after interviewing professionals within the juvenile
justice system supports my hypothesis that the philosophy of parens patriae remains
as the foundation of the system but that in response to legislative and societal
demands, a more get tough or punitive philosophy is a growing reality within the
system. Finally, the new balanced and restorative justice philosophy is increasingly
viewed by juvenile justice professionals as a viable alternative philosophy with the
potential to address the problems of the juvenile system that have not been solved by
the parens patriae or get tough approaches.
4


Overview
A study of the juvenile justice system has the potential to cover vast topics
and include detailed investigation of data on juvenile crime rates, treatment programs,
and recidivism rates. I have narrowed the scope as much as possible and examined
the juvenile justice system by looking at its history, the major philosophical
approaches governing the system, the current state of the juvenile justice system in
Denver, and a survey of the personal opinions and philosophical ideologies of some of
the major players in the juvenile justice system in Denver. This chapter delineates the
methods I utilized to investigate the juvenile justice system and the current system in
Denver.
Chapter 1 of this study of the juvenile justice system provides an overview of
the history of the juvenile justice system from its roots in Roman law and English
common law, to the reforms of the 1800s, to the founding of the first juvenile courts
in Illinois and Denver, and since the reforms began by the Supreme Courts decision
in In re Gault in which children have been afforded more procedural protections
during adjudicatory procedures.
Chapter 2 surveys the philosophical history of the system, the purposes for
which and the philosophies upon which the system was created, and the trends in
5


philosophies concerning juvenile corrections. I then apply these models in examining
how the diverging philosophies have worked to create the current system in Denver.
In Chapter 3, the paper studies the Summer of Violence which was the impetus for
the legislative creation of a task force to study the recodification of the Colorado
Childrens Code and the resulting revisions to that Code which are delineated in
Appendix B. Chapter 4 presents common themes in the juvenile justice system that
arose consistently during my interviews with juvenile justice professionals, while
Chapter 5 looks at those professionals thoughts and opinions as to the current status
of the primary philosophies within the juvenile justice system. Finally, Chapter 6
offers my conclusions concerning those philosophies and their effect on the juvenile
justice system.
While this study examines only a small fraction of the labyrinth that is our
juvenile justice system, it attempts to project an impression of the philosophies of
individuals running the juvenile justice system in Denver and how those philosophies
impact that system.
S
6


CHAPTER 1
HISTORY OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Children have committed acts that society terms as criminal for at least as long
as we have recorded history. A complete history of a juvenile justice system would
therefore be as long as history itself. I will trace the history of our juvenile justice
system from its roots in Roman law and English common law, through its inception in
its more modem form during the nineteenth century, the first juvenile court in Illinois
in 1899, to the beginnings of the Denver Juvenile Court with Judge Ben Lindsey, and
into the modem era which is marked by the landmark case of In re Gault, 387 US. 1
(1967).
History of the Juvenile Justice System
Prior to the Middle Ages, children were perceived as, and treated the same as,
adults. Only when the notion that children were different from and should be treated
differently than adults emerged in the Middle Ages did cultures begin struggling to
find the best way to treat children who commit crimes. From the Middle Ages,
through the beginnings of Roman and English common law, to the advent of the
juvenile court system, the endeavor to establish a system for juvenile justice has
continued.
7


While most histories of the juvenile justice system begin with the creation of
the House of Refuge in New York in 1825 or with the Illinois Juvenile Court Act in
1899, societies have been dealing with the problem of children who commit crimes
throughout history. Prior to the Middle Ages, childhood did not exist conceptually.
[TJhere was no awareness of the different nature of children, mentally, intellectually,
and emotionally. Children were mere adults in small bodies and were treated as such
(Vito & Wilson, 1985:15). It was only during the Middle Ages that perceptions of
children began to change. Ideas that children are different from adults, are more
innocent and helpless than adults, and therefore should be treated differently than
adults, began to emerge (Vito & Wilson, 1985:16).
During the early Christian era, parents were vested with almost exclusive
responsibility for disciplining their children under Roman law. The age of seven years
was used to determine whether the child would be subject to the discipline of their
parents or the state, which subjected children seven years of age and older to the same
penalties as adults. The age of seven was used because it was at this age that children
were seen as possessing reason, as being capable of formulating standards of right
and wrong, and as being capable of freely choosing between them. This same
standard was later adopted by the English common law during the Middle Ages
(Champion, 1998:7). Under English common law, children under the age of seven
could not be tried for a criminal offense. Children under seven years of age were not
8


believed to have the capacity to form the requisite mens rea, or intent for criminal
behavior, and therefore could not be held criminally responsible (Vito & Wilson,
1985:17). While children between the ages of seven and fourteen were also
considered incapable of being criminally responsible, they could be tried as an adult if
the court demonstrated that the child knew the difference between right and wrong.
Once a child reached fifteen years of age, they were held to be as responsible as an
adult and therefore were liable for the same criminal offenses as an adult (Vito &
Wilson, 1985:17).
In England, penalties for criminal behavior included stocks and pillories,
whipping posts, branding, other types of corporal punishment, banishment, lengthy
periods of incarceration in jails patterned after workhouses,2 and death (Champion,
1998:8). At the start of the nineteenth century, children in the United States who
were accused of criminal acts were treated similarly to the children in England. When
charged and convicted of crimes, including capital offenses, the adult criminal code
applied to children and the children were subject to harsh sentences similar to those
imposed on adults (Siegel & Senna, 1997:426-427).
Shortly after the Revolutionary War, religious interests began to focus on the
plight of the poor. In 1787, a group of Quakers established a society3 that worked to
2 Created ostensibly to punish offenders, the inmates, including children, were leased out to perform
labor for merchants.
3 The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries ofPublic Prisons (Champion, 1998:10).
9


improve conditions in jails and prisons. In 1790, their efforts were rewarded with the
creation of the Walnut Street Jail where real efforts were made to classify and
segregate prisoners by severity of their crime, their age and gender. This facility was
a huge step forward in corrections as it sought to rehabilitate the inmates rather than
simply keep them off the streets (Champion, 1998:10). This was also a first step in
treating children offenders differently than adult criminals.
During the nineteenth century, society began to struggle to find a system
which would deal with juveniles who commit crimes as children rather than adults.
During this period, people, again led by the religious organizations, became
concerned with the practice of putting children into prisons with adult criminals where
they simply learned to become better criminals. Reformers came up with the idea that
a separate institution for children would give the children a chance to be rehabilitated
rather than simply punished. As early as 1824, a group of reformers in New York had
managed to convince the legislature to authorize a House of Refuge for those children
that were deemed reformable by the authorities (Fox, 1996:30). Rehabilitation of the
children was the goal of the House of Refuge and towards that end, the house was a
small building at the edge of town where a small number of children were kept. Other
cities began opening similar institutions, and by 1850, there were houses of refuge in
eight cities. These houses were founded on the ideas of segregating children
offenders from adult offenders, rehabilitation as the goal, and restricting the programs
10


to those children that could be helped (Pickett, 1969, cited in Fox, 1996:30). While
many more of these type of houses were founded throughout the 1850s, the number
of children being incarcerated was growing quickly and soon larger institutions had to
be built. For a time there was a return to the smaller model based on the House of
Refuge model, but soon industrial and reform schools for children took over (Fox:
1996:31).
While the New York House of Refuge originally housed both delinquent and
neglected4 children, reformers became dissatisfied with this method of dealing with
neglected children. In 1833, Reverend Charles Loring Brace created the New York
Childrens Aid Society which placed neglected children in foster homes in the farms
and rural communities of the western states.5 In 1854, the New York Juvenile
Asylum was created to house neglected children and from that time on, only
delinquent6 children were housed at the houses of refuge in New York (Fox,
1996:32).
4 Neglected children were those whose parents were poor and without the means to properly care for
the children as well as children found roaming the streets, hanging out with undesirables, and
otherwise behaving in a manner which was not criminal but which did not conform with societys
expectations of children.
5 The terrors and abuses of this system that shipped poor children west to be cared for by strangers
would comprise a whole book in itself. All too often these children were simply treated as cheap
labor.
6 Delinquent children were those that were alleged to have committed an act for which an adult
could be prosecuted in criminal court.
11


Unfortunately, the practice in most states was to treat delinquent and
neglected children alike. Children bom to poor families could be taken from their
homes and placed in institutions simply because the state believed that their parents
were unable to raise children who would not turn out to be criminals. This practice
was premised on the apparent connection between poverty and criminality. The 1838
case of Ex parte Crouse, 4 Wharton. (Pa.) 9 (1939), relied on the doctrine of parens
patriae,7 to uphold involuntary commitment of neglected children to institutions even
without any formal proceedings of a criminal trial (Fox, 1996:32).
The concept of the state acting in a parental role dates back to the 1772 case
of Eyre v. Shaftsbvry. In that case, the English court established the principle of
parens patriae, which enabled the court to act in lieu of parents who were unable or
unwilling to provide appropriate care and guidance to their children (Roberts,
1998:122). Parens patriae is defined in Blacks Law Dictionary as meaning literally
parent of the country and is traditionally referred to as the role of the state as
sovereign and guardian of persons under legal disability such as juveniles. It is the
principle that the state must care for those who cannot take care of themselves, such
as minors who lack proper care and custody from their parents (Blacks Law
Dictionary, 1991:769). This concept justified the Crowns interfering with family
7 See as follows.
12


relations on the grounds that a childs welfare was threatened (Schlossman,
1983:962). The United States adopted this right to act as a guardian for children
from the civil common-law doctrine of the English. The founders of the first juvenile
court in America had intended the juvenile court to be as much a place to educate
errant children and negligent parents as an institution that handed down sanctions
(Roberts, 1998:123).
Untold number of children from poor families were taken from their homes
and placed in institutions, foster homes, or shipped out west, all under the umbrella of
the states parens patriae role. Today, the role of the juvenile court in dependency
and neglect8 cases is still based on the doctrines established during this early period of
juvenile justice.
So, operating under aegis of parens patriae, according to Siegel and Senna,
the principles that motivated the Illinois reformers during this early period were: (1)
children, because of their age, should not be held as accountable as adults; (2) the
objective of the juvenile justice system is to help the youngster, to treat and
rehabilitate rather than punish; (3) disposition should be predicated on analysis of the
youths special circumstances and needs; and (4) the system should avoid the
punitive, adversary, and formalized trappings of the adult criminal process with all its
8 This is the modern terminology used to denote abused and impoverished children or those whose
parents are unable or unwilling to provide for their care.
13


confusing rules of evidence and tightly controlled procedures (Siegel & Senna,
1997:434). Regardless of these guiding principles of the reformers, this early period
of the juvenile justice system was marked by the same debate which exists today:
rehabilitation versus punishment as the best was to treat juvenile offenders. Fear of
offenders created an impetus to punish that never gave way completely to
rehabilitative purposes (Fox, 1996:31).
Beginning with the notion that children who commit crimes are different from
and should be treated differently than adults who commit crimes, through centuries of
struggling to find answers to just how those children should be treated, to the
growing attention paid to the plight of children by religious reformers in New York
and Illinois, the juvenile justice system reached a turning point. For better or worse,
the situation of children who were in trouble with the law, were abused or neglected
by their parents, or who simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,
had come to the attention of persons who were determined to help these children.
The era of the juvenile court system was about to begin.
14


First Juvenile Court
From the creation and abolition of reform schools in Chicago, the formation of
a committee to study of the treatment of juveniles, to the culmination of that study in
the legislative creation of the Illinois Juvenile Court, the history of the first juvenile
court followed the meandering path that has marked the struggle to find an answer as
to how best treat children in trouble. During this time, the focal point became
treatment through the court system.
During the Progressive Era, reformers attempted to apply scientific principles
to solve the social problems of the day. These attempts set the tone for the changes
facing the treatment of juveniles. The state of Illinois adopted the idea of the House
of Refuge and established the Chicago Reform School in 1856. Determinations about
who was placed in the school centered around the childs perceived amenability to
treatment rather than guilt of an offense. The courts issued orders for treatment of
the children based simply on what a particular judge thought was in the best interest
of the child, regardless of the childs alleged crime and sometimes without even
bringing charges against them (Fox, 1996:31). In the 1870 case of People ex rel.
O 'Connell v. Turner, 55 111. 280 (1870), the Illinois Supreme Court held confinement
of children in the Chicago Reform School without charges and due process to be
15


unconstitutional. This case suggested early on that while the parens patriae model of
juvenile justice may have the best interest of the child at its foundation, the state is
always capable of exploiting the child under its auspices. The Chicago Reform
School was closed in 1872 and thereafter the children convicted of criminal offenses
were committed to the reformatory in Pontiac, Illinois (Fox, 1996:31). This was the
end of specialized juvenile justice in Illinois until the Juvenile Court was created.
The idea for a separate juvenile court originated in the early 1890s, but in
1891, a bill to create a juvenile court in Illinois failed (Ryerson, 1978:4). However,
on April 21, 1899, the Illinois legislature passed the Illinois Juvenile Court Act, to
regulate the treatment and control of dependent, neglected and delinquent children,
thereby creating the countrys first juvenile court (Fox, 1996:33). This Act was the
culmination of much effort by social workers, lawyers, and humanitarians (Roberts,
1998:123). Lucy L. Flower, Julia C. Lathrop, and Jane Addams were the moving
spirits in formulating the new and basically different conception of the treatment of
juvenile delinquents which it represented (Abbott, Abbott, and Breckinridge,
1938:330). The movement towards a juvenile court system had gained momentum
and a committee had been appointed to study the treatment of juveniles. The
culmination of this committees report was the law passed by the Illinois legislature
which created the juvenile court and empowered the court to send youths to
16


institutions and appoint probation officers. According to Roberts, the major features
and components of this first juvenile court were as follows:
1. An emphasis on informal procedures at every stage of court
intake, adjudication, and disposition.
2. A separate and sanitary detention center where doctors, social
workers, and other staff would systematically observe and
study the childs personality and motivation. This evaluation
would form part of the prehearing investigation.
3. Passage of enabling legislation that would encourage judges
to fine and sentence adults to jail when they were negligent or
had contributed to the delinquency of a minor.
4. Probation, the most important component of the new courts.
The primary goal of the juvenile court was the rehabilitation
of children and youth in their own homes. (Roberts,
1998:124-125)
Hence, community-based treatment of juveniles was the emphasis of the first
juvenile court as opposed to committing juveniles to institutions. The preference was
clearly towards probation in the juveniles own home rather than institutionalization.
Ellen Ryerson describes the approach of this first juvenile court as based upon the
idea that children are different from adults and therefore require different treatment
before the law. The state, acting through the juvenile court, must treat children not
as responsible moral agents subject to condemnation of the community but as wards
in need of care (Ryerson, 1978:3). Ryerson argues that the court for children
should have been a civil court with flexible procedures aimed at diagnosing,
preventing, and curing delinquency (Ryerson, 1978:3).
17


This first juvenile court was to have jurisdiction over children who were under
16 years-of-age and were found by the judge to be dependent, neglected, or
delinquent. The children were to be in a separate jurisdiction within the circuit court
and have a separate court, separate judge, separate hearings, and separate records.
Charges were not to be filed against a child, but rather a petition was filed in his
interest. The proceedings were to be informal and indictments, pleadings and juries
were eliminated.9 The probation officer and judge were simply to determine the
causes of the problem and devise and oversee a treatment plan for the child (Vito and
Wilson, 1985:48).
In Foxs article concerning the history of the juvenile court, he claims that this
first juvenile court was a failure because it simply transferred to individual judges the
power to make determinations about the reformability of a child brought before them
and then summarily make orders on that basis. As an example, he states that Judge
Richard S. Tuthill sent 37 boys to the grand jury based solely on his personal
exchanges with those boys and his opinion that they were not fit subjects for
treatment by the juvenile court (Fox, 1996:34). Regardless of Foxs charges, the
9 A jury trial could be requested by one of the parties or the judge.
18


juvenile justice system had been altered in a manner that would bring us to todays
system.
The advent of the juvenile court was a watershed moment in the current
juvenile justice system. Built upon the concept that children are different from adults
and should be treated differently, the court took jurisdiction over children believed to
be dependent, neglected or delinquent and tried to help those children. The problems
in such a system are huge and attempts to solve those problems are still being made
one hundred years later, but the creation of the juvenile court system has dominated
the juvenile justice landscape since its inception.
Denver Juvenile Court
While history credits the Illinois Juvenile Court as being the first juvenile
court, Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey, a controversial Denver judge appointed to the
bench in 1900, claimed that his court was the original juvenile court. Whichever
account is accurate, it is undisputed that the emergence of the Denver Juvenile Court
began within the same time frame as the Illinois Juvenile Court and the extent to
which the whole court centered around Judge Ben Lindsey and his personal brand of
juvenile justice. His influence on the Denver Juvenile Court left a lasting mark which
has only recently begun to be erased by the Colorado legislature.
19


Benjamin Lindsey was first appointed as a county judge. From that position,
he was called upon to send a 12-year-old boy to jail for stealing coal to keep his
family from freezing. The boys father had been injured in a railroad accident for
which the company had not offered the family any compensation. Lindsey was
shocked and outraged at the injustice in the law that would send the boy to prison and .
he arranged for the boy to serve probation instead. From that time on, Lindsey
became an advocate for kids in trouble and he mounted a crusade to give youths
special legal protection (Goodstein, 1993:235).
Judge Ben Lindsey was the pioneer of the Denver Juvenile Court and a leader
among reformers concerned with rehabilitating delinquent children. His brand of
juvenile justice is described in an article by Fox discussing the early juvenile court in
Denver, Under Judge Lindseys aegis, the Denver court uniquely embodied a deeply
personal judicial involvement in the lives of the juvenile court children (Fox,
1996:34). Lindsey believed that love was the key to reforming juveniles and was
dedicated to unraveling the problem of delinquency from his bench through warm
personal relationships with delinquents (Ryerson 1978:87). He wanted not only to
teach children how and why they should obey the law but also to make the children
really patriotic in spirit, protectors of the state and upholders of its laws (From a
discussion reported in Proceedings of the National Conference of Charities and
20


Correction, XXIX (1902), cited in Ryerson, 1978:48). He seemed to believe that
childrens delinquent acts were simply mistakes that the child would correct if
someone took it upon themselves to point out the problem to the child (Ryerson,
1978:52). These children were fundamentally good children and their social and
psychological environment was in good part responsible for their being in trouble.
The role of the juvenile court judge was to strengthen the childs belief in himself
and make available to him all of the support and encouragement from outside the
court that the judge could harness on his behalf (Fox, 1996:35). Kids who got in
trouble with the law, he argued, were not hardened criminals, but juvenile disorderly
persons (Goodstein, 1993:235). Therefore, the role of the courts was to work with
these kids, not punish them (id).
Judge Lindsey, writing in 1904, interpreted the role of the juvenile court as:
[T]o prevent crime before crime is actually committed...........the
inception of crime is in the waywardness of misdirected children. It
would take care of these children in adolescence, when character is
plastic and can be molded as clay in the potters hands. It would help
to form character and not postpone the evil day in a burglary attempt
to reform it. (Ben Lindsey, The Juvenile Court of Denver in
International Prison Commission, Childrens Courts in the United
States: Their Origin, Development and Results (1904), cited in
Watkins, 1998:60)
From 1900 to 1927, Judge Lindsey served on the county court bench in
Denver. From this position, Lindsey used, in the broadest possible manner, a 1899
21


Colorado education law known as the Compulsory School Act. This act defined
juvenile disorderly persons as any child who does not attend school or who does
attend school but is vicious, incorrigible, or immoral in conduct, or who habitually
wanders about the streets during school hours without any lawful occupation or
employment, or who habitually wanders about the street in the night time (Cohen,
1975:10). Although the law was originally intended to cover only those children that
habitually misbehaved in school, it also encompassed children who roamed the streets
during school hours and Lindsey was able to stretch the law to cover all children of
school age (Champion: 1998:15). These childrens cases were considered to be civil
rather than criminal cases and before long, all school aged children in Denver who
came into contact with the court were handled by Judge Lindseys special court.
While it wasnt until 1903 that the Denver Juvenile Court was first authorized
by the Colorado State Legislature, because of the special court used for juvenile
proceedings, Lindsey claimed that his was the first juvenile court in the country,
predating the Cook County Court by several months (from Gilliam, Phillip B. 1969.
The Story of Judge Ben Lindsey. Unpublished manuscript: Denver Juvenile Court,
cited in Cohen, 1975:10). The 1903 law passed by the Colorado State Legislature,
An Act Concerning Juvenile Children, was broader than the Illinois statute in that it
also held parents and guardians responsible for contributing to the delinquency of
22


their children. This part of the law was met with great approval by Judge Lindsey
(Ryerson, 1978:36).
Judge Ben Lindseys career ended in 1929 after he angered the Denver
establishment by espousing unpopular ideas aimed at helping the youth and by
exposing how the biggest businessmen in Denver profited from the corruption,
immoral activities and the debauching of youths through their ownership of the bars
and bordellos that corrupted them (Goodstein, 1993:235). After much political
warfare, Judge Lindsey was disbarred by the Colorado Supreme Court. Prior to this
disbarrment, Judge Lindsey was removed from the Denver Juvenile Court in 1927 and
he marked this event by staging a public bonfire to bum the records of the court (id).
No public monument, school, street or park in Denver is named in honor of Lindsey
(Goodstein, 1993:240). Even so, Judge Benjamin Barr Lindseys legacy lives on in
the Denver Juvenile Court which he was so instrumental in creating.
Today, the Denver Juvenile Court is firmly incorporated in the Colorado
Constitution. Article VI, Section 1 provides for a juvenile court in the city and
county of Denver as an enumerated or constitutional court, while Article VI, Section
23


1510 provides for the establishment of the Denver Juvenile Court (Minuck &
Borchers, 1998:1).
Judge Ben Lindsey set the standard for juvenile courts by his personal manner
of establishing a relationship with the juveniles brought before him and his clear
personal goal of rehabilitating his boys. By 1915, 46 states, 3 territories, and the
District of Columbia had enacted some sort of juvenile court law (Fox, 1996:36).
The era of the juvenile court as a method of dealing with children who commit crimes
had begun. The child savers and Progressive era doctrine had developed a new legal
order that would be both praised and repudiated in the years to come (Watkins,
1998:73).
The Era of In re Gault
The juvenile court system was founded on the idea of informality and
personalism as a means of providing the court with the latitude to decide on a case-
by-case basis what would be best for any particular child. While in theory this may
10 Juvenile court jurisdiction judges election term qualifications. The juvenile court of the
city and county of Denver shall have such jurisdiction as shall be provided by law. The judge of the
juvenile court of the city and county of Denver shall have the same qualifications and term of office
as provided in this article for district judges and shall be elected initially by the qualified electors of
the city and county of Denver at the general election in the year 1964. The number of judges of the
juvenile court of the city and county of Denver may be increased as provided by law. CO. CONST,
art VI, § 15.
24


have been sound, in practice this informality deprived children of any protections from
the court. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Supreme Court was made up of liberal
justices who were unafraid to make changes to a system that didnt seem to be
working. Handing down decisions during the turbulence of the period, the Supreme
Courts decisions in the case of In re Gault and its progeny altered the face of
juvenile justice radically by providing children with some of the Constitutional
protections guaranteed to all persons.
For most of its history, the juvenile court system operated under the idea of
informality. Each court tailored its procedures according to the judges idea of what
was best for the children brought before him and handled each childs case based
solely on what the judge believed was best for this particular child. This led to a wide
variety of different procedures afforded the children and widely disparate treatment at
the hands of the juvenile system. While these procedures allowed for individual
considerations of each childs situation, these same procedures allowed individual
judges to apply harsh and exploitive solutions to individual situations as well. The
criticisms of the informal approach to juvenile justice led to litigation over the rights
accorded juveniles facing criminal charges in adult court. The Gault decision marked
the turning point in the focus of juvenile justice (Minuck & Borchers, 1998:9).
25


In 1966, the first major juvenile rights case, Kent v. United States, 383 U.S.
541 (1966), created some procedural rights for children in the juvenile justice system.
This case established the requirement of a waiver hearing11 before a child can be
transferred to adult court, except for legislative automatic waivers, and the juveniles
right to counsel prior to and during such hearings. While Kent is regarded as the first
major juvenile rights case, there is no dispute that the most consequential case in
juvenile justice is the 1967 case of In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967).
It is widely believed that the case of In re Gault was the most prominent
factor in altering the face of juvenile justice from one of pure parens patriae
philosophy by the courts to the more formal, adversarial system we have today.
Gault changed the entire juvenile justice adjudicatory landscape and laid the
foundation for significant legal changes throughout juvenile law in the last three
decades of the twentieth century (Watkins, 1998:158).
The facts of the case demonstrate the extremely informal procedures followed
by some juvenile courts during the 1960s. At about 10 a.m. on Monday, June 8,
1964, Gerald Francis Gault and a friend were taken into custody by the sheriff, based
upon a call from Geralds neighbor, Mrs. Cook, who had called the police and
11 A waiver hearing is a hearing before the juvenile court to determine whether jurisdiction over the
juvenile should be retained in juvenile court or transfered to adult court.
26


complained of receiving prank phone calls.12 Gerald was on probation at the time, as
a result of being in the company of another boy who had stolen a wallet from a
womans purse. Gerald was placed in a detention facility and no notice was provided
to his parents. When his parents got home from work and could not find him, his
brother was sent to search for him. The brother learned from a neighbor that Gerald
was at the detention facility. When Mrs. Gault went to the facility, she was told why
Jerry was there and of a hearing to be held the following day.
During the hearing, a petition was filed with the court but nothing was served
to Gerald or his parents. They did not see the petition until August 17, 1964. The
hearing was held in the judges chambers, off of the record, in the absence of Mr.
Gault or Mrs. Cook, no one was sworn in, and absolutely no memorandum of any
kind was made of the proceedings. At the end of the hearing, Gerald was held in
detention without explanation or court findings. There is no record as to why he was
held at the facility or why he was subsequently released. A habeas corpus hearing
was held on June 15,1964. During this hearing, witnesses testified to what they
could remember from the preceding hearing, Mrs. Cook was not present, a probation
officer filed a report which was unseen by the Gaults, and the judge committed
12 Mrs. Cook alleged that the phone calls contained lewd or indecent remarks.
27


Gerald, who was 15 years old at the time, as a juvenile delinquent to the state
industrial school until he reached 21 years of age13 (In re Gault, 387 U S. 1,4, 5).
The Supreme Court opinion pointed out that traditionally the Juvenile Court
would have taken the time and care to determine exactly what the juvenile had done
and why he did it, consider the home and family situation, and considered the
possibility that Gerald could be taken care of at home. However, as the Juvenile
Court failed to do so and instead simply treated Gerald as they would any adult
charged under a penal statute,14 Gerald was entitled to the safeguards provided to
adults in the same situation (In re Gault, 387 U S. 1,32). Procedurally, the
Supreme Courts holding in Gault gave children the right to notice of charges, the
right to an attorney at the adjudicatory hearing, the right to remain silent, and the
right to confront and cross-examine witnesses (Clement, 1997:72).
When this decision was handed down by the Supreme Court, it appeared that
nothing less that a total reform of the juvenile system would be required. In reality,
most of the reform resulting from the case was in the adjudicatory rights of juveniles
during delinquency proceedings in that they were now afforded some of the same
rights as adults when accused of committing a delinquent act (Watkins, 1998:159).
13 Gerald Gault later went on to become an attorney (Clement, 1997:48).
14 But without the protections afforded to any adult charged under a penal statute.
28


However, this analysis of the reform does not address the shift in philosophy that
accompanied the reforms brought about by In re Gault and its progeny cases. No
longer were juveniles viewed simply as children for which the court had responsibility
and discretion to deal with in the best way it saw fit. In re Gault effectively
abolished the parens patriae doctrine in the adjudicatory stage of a delinquency case
(Watkins, 1998:175). According to Watkins, the parens patriae doctrine is now
applied during the intake and dispositional processes of the juvenile system, where
broader discretionary decision making is called for, but it has been removed from
deciding questions of guilt or innocence of the charges during the fact finding portion
of the proceedings where individual decisions by power wielding judges had too much
potential for abuse and exploitation. The evaporation of parens patriae in the
adjudicatory phase was compensated for by allowing it to remain as a force for
prevention and rehabilitation two of the major historical goals undergirding the
courts formation (Watkins, 1998:184).
Gault was followed by In re Winship, 97 U.S. 358 (1970). This case
concerned a 12-year-old charged with delinquency for having taken money from a
womans purse. The United States Supreme Court used the Due Process clause to
established that beyond a reasonable doubt would be the standard applicable in
juvenile cases to establish a childs delinquency. The Due Process Clause protects
29


the accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every
fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged . [this standard was
also applicable] during the adjudicatory stage of delinquency proceedings (Clement,
1997:58, citing In re Winship, 397 U.S. at 364 and 368).
Other Supreme Court decisions during this period established further rights
for juveniles. In Breed v. Jones, 421 U.S. 519 (1975), the United States Supreme
Court held that after a juvenile has been adjudicated as delinquent on specific charges,
those same charges may not be alleged against that individual subsequently in criminal
courts through transfers or waivers15 (Champion, 1992:315). The case of Schall v.
Martin, 104 U.S. 2403 (1984), established that the preventative detention of juveniles
by states is constitutional only in those cases that the judge finds the juvenile to pose a
danger to the community or an otherwise serious risk if released prior to the
adjudicatory hearing as opposed to being able to detain children for any reason.
Another important Supreme Court decision, handed down in 1971, curtailed a
juveniles right to a jury trial. McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528 (1971),
established that juveniles were not entitled to a jury trial as a matter of right. But this
15 These are the procedures by which a juvenile case is brought in adult court.
30


case was the exception during this period of extension of procedural rights to
juveniles accused of crimes.
According the Champion, as the juvenile courts are becoming more formalized
a degree of judicial discretion is lost, with both good and bad results. The good
results are represented by more even-handed handling of juvenile cases and the bad
results are represented by less judicial capability to take into account all the
circumstances of a particular juveniles case. Regardless of the results, [ijnformal
adjudicatory proceedings are gradually being eliminated as the juvenile court system
becomes increasingly adversarial (Champion, 1992:330).
The history of the juvenile justice system is long and twisting, often following
the political winds of change. However, the overriding current indicates a long
history of the court adhering to the parens patriae doctrine on which the court was
founded and where the court sought to do whatever it deemed best for each
individual child in an informal setting, followed by a more strict procedural approach
in which the court followed the Supreme Courts decree in In re Gault, that juveniles
receive more procedural protections in order to protect juveniles from exploitation
and abuse. Today, the juvenile justice system seems to be caught up in the demand to
provide juveniles with the procedural protections afforded adults, while attempting to
balance the parens patriae philosophy based upon treating children as children and
31


hence with a rehabilitative approach against an increasingly popular get tough or
punitive approach based upon holding children accountable for their actions.
32


CHAPTER 2
PHILOSOPHICAL MODELS OF JUVENILE JUSTICE
The sheer volume of literature written about the juvenile justice system is
testament to the importance of the subject: our children. While much has been
written about every aspect of the juvenile justice system, including its history,
processes, failures, successes, ideas for reform, players, victims, critics and advocates,
the focus of this paper is the philosophies governing the system. The predominant
philosophies in the juvenile justice system consist of parens patriae (the rehabilitative
model), get tough (or punitive model), and the proposed balanced and restorative
justice model.
Dean J. Champions insightful book The Juvenile Justice System:
Delinquency. Processing, and the Law, written in 1992, summarizes the major trends
that are occurring in the juvenile justice system. He divides the major trends into two
basic philosophies that he calls rehabilitation and justice or get tough policy.
Champion claims that those favoring the rehabilitation philosophy believe in the
parens patriae doctrine that the state should take care of the children, while those
favoring the justice philosophy believe that children should be held increasingly
accountable for their actions and should accept responsibility for physical and
financial injuries they cause others. The current trend is moving towards the latter
33


philosophy. As a result of this trend, juveniles are facing more severe sentencing
policies, greater use of detention for serious or chronic offenders, and greater use of
transferring juveniles into adult criminal court. Champion proposes balancing the two
philosophies as the only way to find an answer to the problem presented by the
conflicting goals. Efforts to make significant improvements within the juvenile
justice system will need to be cooperative ventures, with both communities and public
officials involved in achieving mutually agreed-on system goals (Champion,
1992:511).
Writing as early as 1974, Frederic L. Faust and Paul J. Brantingham compiled
readings, cases and comments on the philosophies of the juvenile justice system in
their book, Juvenile Justice Philosophy. They thoroughly trace the evolution of the
juvenile justice system from the philosophical inception of parens patriae established
by the English courts of chancery, through the socialized era in the 1800s which
resulted in the creation of the juvenile court with its emphasis on helping rehabilitate
children in the system, and on to the constitutionalist revision of the system which
began with the Supreme Courts decision in In re Gault with its emphasis on
procedural protections for the children. In their study of the evolution of the juvenile
justice system, the authors foretell rather accurately the situation facing the juvenile
justice system today: [T]he persistent tenet of juvenile court philosophy that
children should not be burdened with the stigma of criminality, or even delinquency,
34


and the trend toward the legal tightening of juvenile court practices and procedures,
seem likely to lead in two directions simultaneously (Faust and Brantingham,
1974:583).
Finally, the literature presents an alternative philosophy commonly referred to
as balanced and restorative justice. This philosophy espouses the idea that the
juvenile justice system cannot simply focus on the juvenile offender if it wishes to help
the child. Instead, the juvenile, his victim and his community must all be considered
and an attempt to restore a sense of balance among all three must be made.
The diametrically opposing philosophies within the juvenile justice system
must be addressed and somehow reconciled. Those who believe adamantly that
children need to be dealt with under the philosophy ofparens patriae and
rehabilitated rather than punished must come to terms with the increasingly harsh
treatment of children mandated by the legislature as well as with the increasing
violence and criminality of todays youth. Similarly, those who believe just as
adamantly that children need to be held accountable for their actions and that
punishment is the only way to ensure that accountability must recognize that even
though society may be increasingly afraid of its children, there is still broadly held
acceptance of the idea that children are different than adults and should be treated
accordingly. Those that promote the concept of a balanced and restorative approach
to juvenile justice do so in an attempt to reconcile the opposing philosophies into a
35


system that addresses both the need for rehabilitation of children with holding those
children accountable to their victims and the community. These three philosophies
are examined in turn.
Parens Patriae or Rehabilitative Model of Juvenile Justice
Since the advent and implementation of a separate justice system for juveniles
in the United States, the philosophy of parens patriae has been the predominant
philosophy underlying the system.
Early English common law treated criminals quite harshly. As an attempt to
lessen the severity of the criminal law, a Council of Chancery was created to settle
disputes. This council was given the discretion to use a prerogative of grace as a
mechanism by which the council could apply the law less strictly to persons who
might unduly suffer under the legal code. As the council developed into a court with
extensive discretion, the prerogative of grace was applied more and more to children.
[T]he prerogative of grace came to be the principle of parens patriae (Vito &
Wilson, 1985:17).
The concept of parens patriae manifests itself as the rehabilitative model of
juvenile justice. This model, premised upon the idea that the state is to act as a
guardian and in the best interest of the child, was described as early as 1909 by Judge
Julian Mack:
36


Why is it not just and proper to treat these juveniles offenders, as we
deal with the neglected children, as a wise and merciful father handles
his own child whose errors are not discovered by the authorities? Why
is it not the duty of the state, instead of asking merely whether a boy
or girl has committed a specific offense, to find out what he is,
physically, mentally, morally, and then if it learns that he is treading the
path that leads to criminality, to take him in charge, not so much to
punish as to reform, not to degrade but to uplift, not to crush but to
develop, not to make him a criminal but a worthy citizen. (Mack,
Julian. 1909. The Juvenile Court. Harvard Law Review 23:23: 104.
cited in Ghezzi & Loughran, 1996:5)
The rehabilitative model of juvenile justice focuses on treating children as
children rather than criminals. Reform, treatment and rehabilitation enabling the child
to become a productive member of society are the goals of this model. Writing in
1985, Gennaro F. Vito and Deborah G. Wilson described the basis for the
rehabilitative model in their book The American Juvenile Justice System. They
contend that the current conception of children is that of impressionable, naive,
dependent beings who need nurturance, guidance, understanding, and protection until
they are ready to enter the adult world (Vito & Wilson, 1985:16). This conception,
embodied in the concept of parens patriae, is central to what they see as the
underlying philosophy of the juvenile justice system. The states role is to act as a
parent to children who commit criminal behavior because such behavior is simply a
symptom of problems in the childs family or environment. Caring for and treating
the child in order to change his behavior is the objective of the state rather than
punishment.
37


Status offenses are an example of the broad application of the concept of
parens patriae within the juvenile justice system. While the doctrine of parens
patriae was initially adopted by the juvenile court to warrant informal proceedings in
which the judge could use whatever means he believed necessary to save the child
from proceeding down a delinquent path, it was administered broadly. In the courts
view, the behavior which evidenced such a future included the status offenses16 of
truancy, disobeying parents, incorrigibility, and associating with undesirable persons.
Today status offenses are one of the most controversial areas in the juvenile justice
system because of the belief that the states power under parens patriae is often
controlling rather than simply helping to families. The debate involves questions of
decriminalizing status offenses and removing status offenders from the jurisdiction of
the juvenile courts and bringing the childs entire family under the jurisdiction of the
courts (Trojanowicz & Morash, 1992:185-186). According to H. Ted Rubin, the
juvenile court is decreasing their involvement with children accused of status offenses,
especially in urban courts where more serious delinquent offenses are the priority. At
the heart of the debate is the type of treatment status offenders should receive. Albert
Roberts summarizes the debate quite succinctly:
16 Status offenses are those acts committed by a child that would not be criminal if committed by an
adult. The most common status offenses are truancy, running away from home and incorrigibility
(Rubin, 1996:46). In Denver, incorrigibility is referred to as beyond control of parent and
constitutes a large portion of status offenses.
38


The major issue is whether the juvenile court should retain authority
over [status offenders]. Those in favor of the courts continuing
authority believe that a youths habitual misbehavior will eventually
lead to more serious delinquent acts; therefore it is wise for the court
to retain its jurisdiction over status offenders. An opposing view . .
holds that when one defines status offenders as delinquents, the youths
may actually become delinquents as the result of a self-fulfilling
prophecy, leading to secondary deviance. (Roberts, 1998:8)
Another example of the employment of the parens patriae doctrine in the
juvenile justice system is the use of diversion as a method of dealing with children
who commit criminal acts. The juvenile diversion program was established to
provide community-based alternatives to the formal court system that will reduce
juvenile crime and recidivism, change juvenile offenders behavior and attitudes, and
reduce costs (Colorado Childrens Code, section 19-2-303). Diversion is intended to
keep children out of the formal legal system and may occur in lieu of filing a petition
against the juvenile, after adjudication in conjunction with probation services, or as
part of a sentence. Services included in the diversion program include diagnostic
needs assessment, restitution programs, community service, job training and
placement, specialized tutoring, constructive recreational activities, general
counseling and counseling during a crisis situation, and follow-up activities
(Colorado Childrens Code, section 19-1-104(44)). Diversion is a way of allowing
the court to exercise its discretion in individual cases to keep children out of the
formal juvenile justice system under the concept ofparens patriae.
39


Still another weighty role taken on by the juvenile court under the auspices of
the doctrine of parens patriae, is that of taking jurisdiction over dependency and
neglect cases. While this paper addresses primarily the role the juvenile court plays
in the treatment of children in the delinquency area, the role of the court in the
dependency and neglect sphere should not be discounted. The court holds great
power to substitute its ideals and judgments in the care of children for those of
parents.
The Colorado Childrens Code Title 19, Article 3 contains the legislative
mandates that the court must follow in dealing with Dependency and Neglect cases.
The legislative declaration for this section is based upon the philosophy that the state
is responsible for the stability and preservation of the families of this state, and the
safety and protection of children (Colorado Childrens Code, 19-3-100.5)
While it appears indisputable that this power is often necessary to save
children from abusive and negligent parents, within this power lies the potential for
great abuse by the state. The legislature has defined child abuse and neglect and the
steps the state will take to protect children. In practice, the Childrens Code is
susceptible to manipulation by involved parties which allows the legislative mandates
to be applied unevenly and perhaps unfairly. All too often, the poor and the
minorities come under the jurisdiction of the court for actions which would not be
suspect if followed by others simply because they are often already viewed with
40


suspicion by social workers, teachers, doctors and others who may be in a position to
report their actions.
Advocates of this parens patriae or rehabilitative model believe that children
are inherently redeemable and that society has a responsibility to ensure that children
are given every opportunity to be rehabilitated and integrated back into society as
productive members. The following authors discuss the rehabilitative model of
juvenile justice.
An advocate for a modified rehabilitative model of juvenile justice, Charles
Silberman, in his 1978 book Criminal Violence. Criminal Justice, opines that children
are less mature, less able to form moral judgments, and less able to foresee the
consequences of their actions. Silberman sees these characteristics of children as
making them less blameworthy and therefore more deserving of more lenient
punishments than adults. Society owes its children more than simply punishment;
society owes its children a real attempt at rehabilitation. Children have great capacity
for change and even though rehabilitation efforts have failed so far, the remedy is to
try to understand why, and to intensify the search for approaches that offer some
hope of working (Silberman, 1978:358).
Silbermans advocacy of the rehabilitative model of juvenile justice is
qualified. Silberman is critical of the current system and postulates that an element of
punishment is critical. He endorses waiver to adult court on a case-by-case basis for
41


juveniles who commit terrible crimes with a presumption that juvenile court shall
retain jurisdiction unless certain conditions of age, severity of crime, and repetition of
serious crimes are met. Silberman writes of the underlying emotion that seems to
infiltrate all efforts at solving the juvenile justice dilemma: fear. Further frustrating
societys attempts to cure the crime problem, is the fact that most perceptions and
ideas about crime and its causes are based on false or irrelevant information. He is
especially critical of the juvenile justice system and its attempts to deal with juvenile
delinquency. He describes public policy toward juveniles as inherently ambivalent, at
times almost schizophrenic (Silberman, 1978:313). The juvenile court is expected to
serve the dual functions of nurturing and protecting young people against older
members of society, while protecting society from the delinquent behavior of
juveniles. As these roles often conflict, the end result is that society is protected at
the expense of the kids.
Silbermans opinion of the juvenile justice system is captured in the title he
gives his discussion on juvenile justice How Could It Happen When We Were So
Sincere? This is reinforced by his quoting of the Queen describing a trial to Alice in
Lewis Carrols Alice in Wonderland: [Tjheres the Kings Messenger. Hes in
prison now, being punished; and the trial doesnt even begin till next Wednesday;
and of course the crime comes last of all. When Alice asks about the possibility that
the messenger will never commit the crime at all, the Queen replies, That would be
42


all the better, wouldnt it? He states that he began with the premise that
intervention in childrens lives by the court was good for the kids. However, his
research changed his mind, as he wrote, [undoubtedly, some youngsters benefit
from judicial intervention; without coercion their self-destructive tendencies might
win out. But far more youngsters are harmed than helped (Silberman, 1978:340).
His suggestions for helping the kids coincides with several other authors and juvenile
justice professionals that I interviewed. He believes that a quicker response by the
system to children who commit delinquent acts is necessary (immediate
consequences) but more lenient sentences are required. If the system punishes
juveniles on their first or second offense, lesser punishments will be in order and kids
will learn that their behavior will have consequences. While he argues that
rehabilitation has failed overall, we should not give up. Instead, once a punishment or
sentence has been decided, we should then make every attempt at rehabilitating the
juvenile.
The juvenile court was founded on the concept of parens patriae and the idea
that children should be treated differently than adults based upon their lesser ability to
be criminally responsible for their actions. Since its inception, the juvenile courts
role has been to rehabilitate children in trouble so that they may become fully
integrated members of society. The rehabilitative model of juvenile justice embraces
the idea that children are less responsible for criminal behavior and therefore should
43


be provided with treatment and programs intended to help these children towards
adulthood. But even those advocates of the rehabilitative model of juvenile justice
concede that standing alone this model has simply failed to solve the problems
presented by juvenile criminal behavior both by failing to consider societys protection
from juvenile crime and by failing to address the potentially abusive power of the state
when acting under the auspices of parens patriae.
Get Tough or Punitive Model of Juvenile Justice
The second and apparently current politically favored philosophy underlying
the juvenile justice system is one of get tough or punishment as the model for
dealing with juvenile offenders. While the juvenile system has long struggled between
rehabilitation and punishment as the main focus of juvenile justice, since the beginning
of the separate juvenile court system, the philosophy of parens patriae has prevailed.
However with rising fear of juvenile crime, coupled with the perception that the
system is too soft on kids who commit crimes, the current movement is clearly
towards punishment as the primary focus of the juvenile justice system.
The get tough, or punishment model, of juvenile justice calls for increasing
punishment of juvenile offenders as the focus of the juvenile justice system. By
concentrating on punishment of children who commit crimes, the philosophy holds
that this will serve to hold such children accountable for their actions while sending a
44


message of deterrence to others who would commit such crimes and a message to
communities and victims that their needs are being met.
An example of the increasing shift towards a get tough or punishment
philosophy in the juvenile system is the adoption of the controversial direct file and
transfer hearing procedures adopted by the Colorado legislature in their recodification
of the Colorado Childrens Code. As recodified, the Colorado Childrens Code,
section 19-2-517, decrees that children as young as 14 years-of-age may be charged
as adults in district court under certain conditions,17 and section 19-2-518 allows
children as young as 12 years-of-age to have their juvenile cases transferred to adult
court under certain conditions.18 The direct file and transfer procedures refer to
those situations where juveniles who fall into certain classifications can be tried in the
district court and subject to adult penalties (Craig, 1997.1). When a juvenile falls
into the direct file classification, the district attorney has complete discretion whether
to file directly in district court or whether to allow the juvenile court to retain
jurisdiction. If the juvenile does not fall within direct file criteria, but is alleged to
have committed certain offenses,19 the district attorney can only request a transfer
17 These conditions include that the child must be 14 years-of-age or older and have committed
certain classes of crimes or have been adjudicated a certain number of times.
18 These conditions include commission of a class 1 or class 2 felony or a crime of violence and the
juvenile court finding that it would be contrary to the best interests of the juvenile or of the public to
retain jurisdiction (Colorado Childrens Code, section 19-2-518).
19 A juveniles case may only be transferred to adult court if he or she is 12 or 13 years-of-age and is
alleged to have committed a class 1 or 2 felony or a crime of violence; the juvenile is 14 years-of-
45


hearing. During this hearing, the juvenile court makes the decision to either retain
jurisdiction over the juvenile or transfer the child to be tried in an adult district court
(Craig, 1997:1).
Another example of the legislatures response to increasing demands to get
tough on juvenile crime is the Colorado legislatures authorization the creation of a
Regimented Juvenile Training Program or Boot Camp (Colorado Childrens Code,
section 19-2-309). The legislative purpose was to subject certain children to a
controlled and regimented environment with the stated goals of aflBrm[ing] dignity of
self and respect for others; promot[ing] the value of education, work, and self-
discipline; and develop[ing] useful skills and abilities that can be applied when the
juvenile is reintegrated into the community (Colorado Childrens Code, section 19-2-
309). A sentence to boot camp is an alternative to detention or commitment to the
Department of Human Services. Boot camp is intended for juveniles who would
otherwise be placed in detention or committed and is a condition of probation. If a
juvenile is sentenced to boot camp but rejected because of an extensive criminal
history or a physical or mental condition that would prevent full participation in the
program, that juvenile will be resentenced by the juvenile court (Craig, 1997:3).
age or older and is alleged to have committed a felony; or the court finds that the best interests of
the juvenile or the community will be better served if the case is transferred.
46


As a final example of the get tough or punitive philosophy as a basis for
dealing with juvenile crime, the Colorado legislature, acting in response to Denvers
Summer of Fear,20 passed a juvenile handgun law which allows juveniles caught
with a handgun to be detained without bail until trial unless the juvenile can prove that
they are not a danger to themselves or the community. All that is required to trigger
the presumption that the child is a danger to society and therefore detention without
bail is that the child be accused of carrying the weapon. The legal presumption
against the juvenile and the no-bail provision was challenged soon after the laws
enactment in 1993 and found to be unconstitutional by then Denver Juvenile Court
Judge David Ramirez. In 1995, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned Judge
Ramirezs decision and held that there is a direct relationship between a juvenile
possessing a deadly weapon and the risk of serious harm to the community or the
child and therefore the detention of juveniles possessing deadly weapons serves a
legitimate state objective (Sanko & Lindsay, Rocky Mountain News 3/14/95, State
High Court Upholds Law on Kids and Guns: Juveniles Accused of Carrying
Handguns Can be Denied Bail). The Colorado juvenile handgun law stands today as
an example of getting tough on juveniles.
Advocates of the get tough or punitive philosophy of juvenile justice cover
a wide range of people from law enforcement, victims rights advocates, fearful
20 See Chapter 3.
47


community members, and political factions appealing to that fear of crime and
juveniles. Writing in Albert Roberts 1998 book, Juvenile Justice: Policies. Programs
and Services, author C. Aaron McNeece asserts that the current get tough punitive
approach to youthful offenders is the result of more serious offenses and a growing
fear of crime. The Reagan administration targeted juvenile offenders that committed
serious or repetitive crimes under the auspices that the juvenile justice system had
been too concerned with the protection of the juveniles at the expense of society and
victims. In McNeeces opinion, we are currently in another get tough period of
juvenile justice:
The recent crime bill and other legislation indicate that our political
leaders are in no mood to spend more money looking for effective and
humane solutions to the problems associated with juvenile crime. In
this era of boot camps, minimum mandatory sentences, three strikes
and youre out policies, and the contracting of services to the lowest
bidders, justice system policy may experience little improvement until
the next national elections. (Roberts, 1998:37)
Senator John Ashcroft, a Missouri Republican who advocates tougher juvenile
laws, also believes that increasing punishments for juveniles is necessary. Sure its
tough, he says referring to a Senate bill that would open and disseminate juvenile
court records. You ought to think more seriously about your conduct. Were
talking about serious crime. Were not talking about a kid who throws a snowball
through a window (Kuhnhenn, Kansas City Star 7/27/97, Crackdown on Young
Criminals).
48


Writing in 1989, at least one author erroneously believed that the era of get
tough treatment of juveniles was waning. As a past administrator of the Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and chairman of the Juvenile Justice
Committee of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations, Ira Schwartz brings his
experiences with the juvenile justice system to life in his book (Injustice for Juveniles:
Rethinking the Best Interests of the Child. In this blistering account of the current
juvenile justice system and its treatment of Americas children, criticism is aimed at
the practice of jailing juvenile offenders in adult jails, punishing juveniles in
institutions rather than community-based programs, and the fact that minority
juveniles make up the majority of incarcerated kids. Schwartz said that there is
reason to believe that the get tough movement is waning and that we may be
entering another new era of reform. ... A growing number of states ... are generally
adopting policies and strategies aimed at reducing reliance on incarceration in favor of
increased use of highly structured and individualized community-based programs
(Schwartz, 1989:60). While it is now clear that the get tough philosophy is
flourishing, Schwartz is correct in his predictions that another era may be on the
horizon. The idea of the balanced and restorative model of justice appears to be
gaining momentum.
The current political and social climate in which young people are viewed with
suspicion and fear is ripe for fostering the get tough or punitive model of juvenile
49


justice. While proponents of this model have espoused punishment as the most
effective way of dealing with juvenile crime for many years, whether the philosophys
current popularity will continue remains to be seen. However, there is no denying
that the current trend clearly embraces the get tough or punitive philosophy of
juvenile justice.
Balanced and Restorative Justice Model of Juvenile Justice
Faced with rising criticism of the juvenile justice system, experts within the
system are seeking an alternative philosophy to address the needs of juveniles, their
victims and their communities. Many Native American nations rooted their justice
systems on restoring the balance in the community when a member of society caused
harm to another member or the community. [I]n tribal societies generally, the
fundamental purpose of the law was the reintegration of the community (Hairing,
1994:89). There was little concern with punishment, retribution, or applying any
abstract notions of justice or morality. The goal was the termination of the conflict
and the reintegration of all persons involved into the tribal body (Harring,
1994:104). Similarly, creating a system that seeks to restore the balance between the
community, the offender and the victim is the premise of a balanced and restorative
model of juvenile justice. As defined by Beverly Title, coordinator of the Longmont
Community Justice Partnership, Restorative justice is a community wrapping its
50


arms around someone who has been involved in wrongdoing and recognizing them as
someone who has been alienated from the community (Auge, Denver Post 6/17/99,
Conference Looks at Youth Violence).
A substantial advocate for a balanced and restorative model of juvenile justice
is the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The OJJDP was
established by the President and Congress through the Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. The goal of the office is to provide national
leadership in addressing the issues of juvenile delinquency and improving juvenile
justice. Fear of violent juvenile crime and a sense of frustration with both real and
perceived system ineffectiveness are fueling major changes in juvenile justice across
the nation (Bazemore, 1997:5). This office has reacted to the increasing tide of
criticism directed at the juvenile justice system by seeking new programs, policies and
procedures to improve the system. The Balanced and Restorative Justice Project is
the result of a grant from this office to Florida Atlantic University and is a joint
project of the Center for Restorative Justice & Mediation at the University of
Minnesota School of Social Work and Florida Atlantic University (Bazemore, 1997).
The results of this project present a comprehensive description and explanation of this
new framework for juvenile justice.
While the current juvenile justice system is moving increasingly in favor of the
get tough or punishment philosophy, some communitys juvenile justice systems are
51


working to actively repair the harm caused by delinquency by requiring that offenders
make amends to their victims and communities and seeking to build those juvenile
offenders competency, strengthen community safety, and change the image of
juvenile justice and juvenile offenders (Bazemore, 1997:6). The philosophy
underlying the balanced and restorative model of juvenile justice is one of balancing
the needs of the juvenile offenders, the victims and the community, with no one
objective taking precedence over another.
The balanced and restorative model specifies clear goals for juvenile justice:
sanctioning, rehabilitation, and increased public safety, with the overall goal being
restoring victims and victimized communities (Bazemore, 1997:21). Based upon a
philosophy that advocates balancing and serving the needs of the juvenile offenders,
the victims and the community rather than simply focusing upon the juvenile offender,
the balanced and restorative model seeks to find new ways to involve the victim and
the community in repairing the harm caused by the offender while seeking to integrate
the offender back into the community rather than further isolating the child. The
model seeks to serve the needs of all the parties rather than simply punish the juvenile
or remove him from society. Different methods are utilized in seeking such a balance.
A prime example of the Balanced and Restorative Justice Model being used in
Denver is the recent creation of the Community Assessment Center. During 1998,
representatives from more than twenty-five agencies, including juvenile justice, law
52


enforcement, social services, schools and local providers of youth and family services
met to design a Community Assessment Center for the city and county of Denver.
This center is designed to coordinate prevention and intervention services for juvenile
offenders, at-risk youth and their families. The goals of this center are to provide a
prevention and intervention process through which children and families would
receive a comprehensive assessment of their needs and be linked to services to meet.
their needs in such areas as education, employment, mental health, and substance
abuse (Mclean: 1998). The Denver Community Assessment Centers vision
statement expresses the Balanced and Restorative Justice model of justice: The
Community Assessment Center is an integrated cooperative to help strengthen and
support children and families who are involved, or are at risk of becoming involved,
with the Juvenile Justice System. An effort is made to promote the safety of the
community in addition to that of the child (Denver Community Assessment Center
Implementation Grant Proposal, June 30, 1998). This project aims to serve 600
juvenile offenders and 200 at-risk youth during an eighteen-month period
commencing in 1999. The results of this community effort in helping children may
pave the way for a wider acceptance of such a balanced approach to juvenile justice.
Another example of the use of a balanced a restorative model of juvenile
justice in the Denver juvenile justice system is found in the Statement of Common
Grounds established by the Colorado Probation Department (See Appendix A). This
53


statement establishes that the restorative model of justice is the goal of the probation
department. Colorado probation is committed to a system of restorative justice for
the community, the offender, and the victims of crime (Colorado Probation
Statement of Common Grounds). This statement defines restorative justice as
striving to repair the damage caused by criminal behavior to the victims of crime;
individually and as a community (id). The probation department foresees this model
of justice as being implemented through financial reimbursement to victims, public
service from the offender to the community, and by restoring the offender through
teaching him or her to respond positively and cooperatively to social norms (id).
Advocates of a balanced and restorative model of juvenile justice recognize
the failings of the parens patriae or rehabilitative philosophy as well as the dangers
and ineffectiveness of the growing trend towards punishment as a juvenile justice
philosophy. Based upon the fear of violent juvenile crime and a growing sense of
frustration with the effectiveness of the current system, authors Gordon Bazemore
and Mark Umbreit, suggest a need for a new framework in the juvenile justice system
as an alternative to the get tough approach. They call for a policy premised upon
the Balanced and Restorative Justice model described below. The underlying
assumption of this model of justice is that none of the essential functions of the
justice system rehabilitation, community protection, sanctioning, and victim
54


restoration can be effectively accomplished without the joint involvement of
victims, offenders, and the community (Roberts, 1998:21).
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) sponsored
project, reported in the 1997 article Balanced and Restorative Justice for Juveniles:
A Framework for Juvenile Justice in the 21st Centuiy (discussed below), is described
in Albert Roberts book, Juvenile Justice: Policies, Programs and Services. As the
title suggests, the report proposes and advocates a new philosophy for dealing with
juvenile justice: a balanced approach, grounded on restoration, directed at meeting
the traditional needs for sanctioning, rehabilitation, and increased public safety, while
at the same time serving the overarching goal of restoration of victims and victimized
communities. The report recognizes that the history of reforms in the juvenile
system have been a constant battle between punishment and rehabilitation of juveniles
and that the current trend is clearly towards retribution and punitive philosophy for
dealing with juveniles. Their Balanced and Restorative Justice model addresses both
philosophical viewpoints by focusing on the repair of harm done and requiring that
both the juvenile and the community contribute to both victim and community
restoration and to the juveniles integration. An editorial published in the Minneapolis
Star Tribune on July 11, 1993, says of the restorative model: This vision of justice
isnt just about saving money or averting prison construction and its certainly not
about being soft on crime. Its about making things right instead of lamenting whats
55


wrong, cultivating strength rather than perpetuating failure (Roberts, 1998:44). The
report gives good solid comparisons between the current models of juvenile justice
based upon punishment and rehabilitation and their suggested model based on
balancing, as well as recommendations for its implementation.
Susan Guarino-Ghezzi and Edward J. Loughran also advocate a philosophy of
balanced justice in their 1996 book, Balancing Juvenile Justice. Their theory holds
that protection of juveniles must be balanced with control and that juvenile programs
must be developed that are creative, flexible, and aimed at community reintegration
and public safety. Addressing juvenile justice requires that the organizations that deal
with youth's behavior must have diverse and flexible alternatives for dealing with
individual kids. Their approach has as its goals a balancing of the divergent
philosophies of retribution, deterrence, accountability, rehabilitation, public safety,
due process rights for offenders, victims rights, and protections of offenders from
abusive conditions of confinement. They state that under the Clinton administration,
the philosophy of the balanced model of juvenile justice has been captured by Janet
Reno and John Wilson, Acting Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention, in their agenda for juvenile justice, A Comprehensive
Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders (OJJDP, December
1993). The strategy calls for a broad spectrum of graduated sanctions to hold youth
accountable for their offenses and a continuum of service programs corresponding to
56


the offenders needs. A balanced juvenile justice system must include offender
accountability as one part of a program that includes community-based intervention,
treatment and rehabilitation services.
The philosophy of parens patriae has long been the dominant basis for our
juvenile justice system. With the advent and current popularity of the get tough
philosophy for treating juveniles caught in the juvenile system comes grave concerns
and hot debate about the best way to treat such children. The emerging model, based
on a balanced and restorative approach, seems to be gaining more and more support
from the people concerned with the system. Exactly how such a philosophy will be
applied during this time of increased demands for treating delinquent juveniles more
like adults remains to be seen. But as current juvenile justice systems are facing
increasing criticism for their apparent ineffectiveness, perhaps a different philosophy
will present communities with wider latitude to experiment with innovative methods
for restoring juvenile offenders, their victims and communities.
Conclusion
The juvenile justice system has become a politically charged target for
criticism from all sides. Those who believe that children should be treated and
rehabilitated tend to criticize the system for being too harsh on children and ignoring
the root of the problems facing society and our youth. Those who believe that
57


children should be held accountable and punished for their actions criticize the system
for being too lenient on children. Those who believe that the time has come for a new
guiding philosophy in the juvenile justice system criticize the system as simply not
working. John Sheridan, a retired administrator of a residential service for delinquent
youth in Concorde, New Hampshire, describes the dilemma facing the juvenile justice
system as, [Ijnstead of blaming the youth, the media and politicians need to look at
the root causes of juvenile delinquency in particular, the breakdown of the family,
child abuse, poverty and the ready availability of guns (Gluck, 1997:62). In
reaction to the growing criticism and an atmosphere of blame, the system has taken a
departure from the way juveniles were treated in the past. What remains to be seen is
how the system will eventually change to accommodate the different philosophies
driving the system and how effective those changes will be in solving the problems
facing the juvenile justice system today. The juvenile justice system in Denver has
been changing rapidly in response to demands placed upon it by society and politics.
The next chapter examines how those demands reached a climax in 1993 and became
a turning point in the Denver Juvenile Justice System.
58


CHAPTER 3
DENVERS SUMMER OF VIOLENCE AND
REFORMS IN JUVENILE JUSTICE
Fear of crime, justified or not, is a vital force in shaping our justice systems.
When the fear of crime is combined with the fear of young people as perpetrators of
crime, society reacts. What that reaction consists of depends in large part on the
perception of crime and the particular type of fear it instills. In his exploration of the
relationship between crime and fear Charles Silberman states:
Crime does more than expose the weakness in social relationships; it
undermines the social order itself, by destroying assumptions on which
it is based. The need to assume that familiar environments are safe is
so great that until they have become victims themselves, many people
rationalize that newspaper and television accounts of crime are greatly
exaggerated. . People need to be able to make sense out of their
environment; otherwise, life would be intolerable. To live with fear,
as victims call it to be suspicious of every sound and every person -
converts the most elementary and routine aspects of life into an
exercise in terror. . The most disorienting aspect of [crime] is the
senselessness of the whole experience, which shatters victims belief
that cause and effect have some relationship. (Silberman, 1978:12-16)
During the summer of 1993, people involved in the Denver juvenile justice
system were forced to become very aware of the problems facing the system. Violent
crime erupted in the theretofore rather peaceful, upscale neighborhood of Park Hill.
59


Citizens who read of shootings and youth violence in other neighborhoods received a
cold dose of reality when that violence was suddenly brought into their neighborhood
and their streets. Regardless of statistics that indicated a falling crime rate, the fear of
crime skyrocketed. [Cjrimes, particularly violent ones such as assaults or rapes,
leave a legacy of fear in victims. For those people, declining crime statistics are
nearly meaningless. Once the crime occurs, victims often say, it shatters whatever
sense of security they once had (Shuster, Los Angeles Times 8/23/98, Living in
Fear). The senselessness of the violence that hit Park Hill created a wave of fear
potent enough to force the legislature to massively overhaul the juvenile justice
system in Colorado by recodifying the Colorado Childrens Code and to justify the
current get tough philosophy driving the system.
The summer of 1993 resulted in a vast shift in the philosophy of juvenile
justice in Denver. That summer, the problems of juvenile crime moved into the
consciousness of mainstream Denver and the politicians reacted quickly and forcefully
in an effort to assuage their constituents fear of juvenile crime. No longer was the
crime taking place only in bad neighborhoods between gang members, suddenly it
was happening in good neighborhoods with innocent people falling victim.
Fueled by the media, people were suddenly terrified of juvenile crime. No longer was
this situation tolerable to mainstream Denver or, more importantly for juveniles, the
politicians who represented them.
60


The results of that summer created a whole new landscape for juvenile justice.
The mayor of Denver, Wellington Webb, who has personal ties to the Park Hill
neighborhood, appointed a committee to study the problem of juvenile crime, called
town meetings and Denvers Day of Prayer session, and hosted a summit of
Denvers law enforcement community, its politicians and about 2,000 citizens
(Briggs, Denver Post 5/3/98, Echo of '93 Shootings Still Ringing in Denver).
Governor Romer, who also has ties to the Park Hill community, appointed an Interim
Committee on Youth violence to study the problems of juvenile crime and to make
recommendations for curbing it, created a 14-point plan for fighting gang violence
and called a special session of the legislature to address juvenile violence. The results:
the recodification of the Colorado Childrens Code and passage of quick, harsh laws
that cracked down on teenagers.
This chapter looks at the perceived Summer of Violence and whether those
perceptions were factually based, the political reaction to the publics fear, and the
resulting changes in the juvenile justice system.
The Summer of Violence
Park Hill is home to lush, tree-lined parkways and stately homes belonging to
many of Denvers politicians, lawyers, city-council members and activists. Park Hill
bears the proud reputation as the one community in Denver that sought racial
61


integration. It promotes itself as the largest, longest-existing, stable multiracial
community in the United States, a neighborhood integrated not by some accident of
geography but by choice (Griego, Rocky Mountain News, 3/22/98, The Promise of
Park Hill Neighborhood Works to Make Vision of Diversity a Reality). The
neighborhood historian, Bea Branscombe, says of Park Hill, We integrated by
invitation, not by migration (id). But in Park Hill there are boundaries and when
people refer to Park Hill they are generally speaking of south Park Hill which is a
predominantly white neighborhood. In south Park Hill, the homes are larger and
more expensive, and the average household income in 1995 was $70,000 more that
twice what it is in northeast Park Hill (id). South Park Hill is undeniably one of the
most desirable addresses in Denver. People shop at the same grocery stores and run
into each other at the community library. In the summer evenings, children spill into
the streets, while their parents visit on front porches (id). As Peter Groff, an
attorney who grew up and lives in Park Hill says of Park Hill, [It] is the ideal of what
America should be. This perception was challenged during the summer of 1993.
Denvers so-called Summer of Violence began on May 2,1993, in the
idyllic neighborhood of Park Hill. That was the day that 10-month-old Ignacio Pardo
went to the Denver Zoo with his grandmother. The Denver Zoo is located in City
Park, on the very edge of Park Hill. As he was seeing his first polar bear, a bullet,
believed to have been from the gun of a Crips gang member shooting at a Bloods
62


gang member, struck Ignacio in the head 20 Hours of surgery followed for Ignacio,
who survived, and years of struggling to deal with juvenile crime began for Denver,
whose juvenile justice system may not survive. So began Denvers Summer of
Violence (Briggs, Denver Post, 5/3/98, Echo of 93 Shootings Still Ringing in
Denver).
The gunshots kept coming, the people kept falling (id). Six-year-old
Broderick Bell was next. He was struck in the head by a stray bullet on June 9,1993.
The shot came from a shoot-out between two cars speeding through Park Hill. He
survived and no one was ever charged but the childs widely publicized recovery
fueled community and political reaction to the violence (Lipsher, Denver Post 8/8/93,
Denver's Summer of Violence: Irrational Shootings Spark Fear in Areas Previously
Untouched). Then Tom and Christina Hollar were struck down. On July 23, 1993,
Tom Hollar was murdered and his wife, Christina, was abducted and assaulted in the
parking lot of a Capitol Hill21 supermarket. Reputed gang members Shane Damone
Davis, 20-years-old, and Steve Harrington, 21-years-old, were arrested in the attack
(id). On July 26, 1993, four-year-old Michael Barela was riding in the back seat of
his parents Blazer when a bullet hit him in the head (id). On July 27, 1993, three-
year-old Andrew Cordova was playing jacks on his aunts porch when a stray bullet
20 No one was ever charged with the shooting.
21 Capitol Hill is a predominantly liberal neighborhood of Denver located not far from Park Hill.
63


hit him in the arm (id). On July 28, 1993,43-year-old Louis Roth was driving in Park
Hill when he was shot several times and killed (id). On July 31, 1993, 27-year-old
Lori Anne Lowe, a schoolteacher, was driving to a friends apartment when she was
shot in the chest and killed (id). And that Halloween, Carl Banks was added to the
list of casualties being accumulated in the Park Hill neighborhood.
By July 29, 1993, the media, in glaring headlines, had proclaimed the summer
of 1993 to be Denvers Summer of Violence (Briggs, Denver Post, 5/3/98, Echo of
93 Shootings Still Echo in Denver). While the media acknowledged that the
statistics did not support the perceptions of rampant rising juvenile crime, the
headlines, front page photographs, length and prominence of articles and editorials
belied those statistics. Paul Colomy, associate professor of sociology at the
University of Denver and Laura Ross Greiner, research associate at the Center for the
Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado at Boulder,
conducted a statistical study of the Summer of Violence which was summarized in
the Denver Post in 1998. Their work seeks to explain why the increased media
coverage of juvenile crime in the summer of 1993 far exceeded the actual increase in
juvenile crime (Colomy & Greiner, Denver Post 5/3/98, High-profile Crime, Media
Drew Attention). Colomy and Greiner assert that the most reliable data about youth
violence are presented in the Supplemental Homicide Report (SHR) which is
assembled by the FBI. This data indicates that the summer of 1993 was simply part
64


of a trend of an increasing amount of lethal violence committed by juveniles. In
Colorado, rather than beginning in the summer of 1993, as the media coverage would
suggest, this trend had begun as early as 1988 and continued until 1995 (id).
The Denver Posts article summarizing Colomy and Greiners statistical study
looked at the pattern of media coverage of juvenile crime as compared to the actual
rate of juvenile crime. They found that serious juvenile crime in Colorado was
steadily increasing during the summers of 1992,1993, and 1994 but that local news
coverage absolutely exploded during the summer of 1993. For example, the article
states that during the months of June, July and August of 1993, the Denver Post
published 196 juvenile crime stories as compared to 73 such stories in the summer of
1992 and 61 such stories in the summer of 1994. Not only were the stories more
numerous during the summer of 1993, the stories were more prominent. The Denver
Post published 44 front-page juvenile crime stories during the same time period in
1993 as compared to two in the summer of 1992 and six in the summer of 1994 (id).
This pattern of increased quantity and prominence given to juvenile crime stories was
also followed by the Rocky Mountain News, the three major television stations and
two of Denvers talk-radio programs (id).
Explanations for the incongruity between actual juvenile crime rates and the
media attention include the publicized resolutions by Mayor Webb and Governor
Romer to do something about juvenile crime, the high-profile nature of some of the
65


crimes, and the fact that the crimes were taking place in good neighborhoods (id).
Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter was quoted as saying:
[W]e have seen a different type of violence that is a cause for
concern. The violence we are seeing has, to some extent, a random
nature. And while it has a gang dynamic, we have innocent people
who are not gang involved who are being injured and killed . .
And that is something that is new. (Lipsher, Denver Post 8/8/93,
Denvers Summer of Violence: Irrational Shootings Spark Fear
in Areas Previously Untouched)
The Reverend Leon Kelly, director of the Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives
program, stated, Its always been the feeling that as long as their violence is among
themselves, that its within the gang element, then thats fine. Let them kill off each
other. . But now . that innocent people are becoming victims, its a different
ballgame (id).
This factor of innocent victims seems to explain why the rising juvenile
crime rate had not received much attention until the summer of 1993. As Colomy and
Greiners work indicates:
[T]he surge in youth violence commenced initially in areas
associated, historically, with high crime rates. Had the media more
carefully scrutinized the changing character of crime in these
neighborhoods, rather than treating the crime that occurred there as
routine and therefore not meriting extensive coverage, they could
have brought this issue out well before the summer of 1993. (
Briggs, Denver Post 5/3/98, Echo of 93 Shootings Still Ringing in
Denver)
66


Charges that racism was the driving force behind the hysteria surrounding the
Summer of Fear are abundant. Reverend Leon Kelly said:
What provoked our state to make history in 1993? ... All of the
sudden these (victims) were people not of color. Why werent
(gang-related) deaths provoking us the year before? We say were
not prejudiced but our actions are different from what we say. (id)
Reporter Bill Briggs contends that the violence in the streets only became politically.
relevant when white, middle-class citizens became the victims of random violence
(id). Even Mayor Webb conceded that there was some truth to this statement. No
one seemed to dispute the fact that it was only because the victims were no longer
confined to gang members that the outcry was so loud. The very fact that people
lamented that the victims were innocent seems to indicate that somehow the
children who belonged to gangs were somehow more deserving as victims and
therefore less deserving of protection or public outrage at their deaths.
The statistics clearly show that the Summer of Violence was somewhat less
violent than other summers (Brown, Denver Post 11/26/97, Don't Inflate the Haters
Importance). According to the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, since 1980,
juvenile arrests for robbery, rape and murder had remained relatively steady and
aggravated assaults had climbed only slightly in spite of a significant increase in the
population (Lipsher, Denver Post 8/8/93, Denvers Summer of Violence, Irrational
Shootings Spark Fear in Areas Previously Untouched).
67


The specific numbers of crimes committed in Colorado during 1992 and 1993,
as compiled indicate that the perceived explosion in violent crimes simply was not
true. According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and reported by Fred
Brown in the Denver Post, there were 197 murders in Colorado in 1993 compared
with 220 in 1992, a drop of 10.5 percent. There were 226 victims of hate crimes in
Colorado in 1993 compared with 378 in 1992, a drop of 40 percent. In fact, the
numbers declined in seven major categories (Brown, Denver Post 11/26/97, Dont
Inflate the Haters Importance). Another statistical study, reported by Mark Eddy in
the Denver Post, showed the decrease in gang crime during the summer of 1993. In
his 1993 article, Eddy says that Through the first half of [1993], gang-related
murders [were] down 33% over the same period in [1994], Sexual assaults [were]
down 50% and robbery 22%. Gang-related aggravated assaults, however, [were] up
46% (Eddy, Denver Post 8/6/93, Police Nab Guns, Make 435 Arrests).
Regardless of the statistics, the high-profile nature of the crimes, their
seemingly randomness, their claiming of innocent victims, their taking place in
good neighborhoods and the medias dramatic and emotional coverage of the
crimes combined to create a situation of hysteria. People were frightened and their
perceptions were that out-of-control kids were to blame. Politicians were frightened
and their reactions were to do something about juvenile crime. Hence, Denvers
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Summer of Violence became a defining time in how children were perceived and
ultimately a defining time for Denvers juvenile justice system.
Political Reactions
As the rising fear of juvenile crime grew in this fertile atmosphere, the reaction
of politicians was to do something and do it fast. Both Mayor Webb and Governor
Romer seemed to feel responsible for providing answers to the problem of juvenile
crime in order to assuage the fears of Denvers citizens.
Looking back on that summer, Mayor Webb has said, People felt unsafe.
The events were scary. We were losing control of our city streets because of the
numerous drive-by shootings that had occurred that not only impacted affiliated gang
members but also innocent bystanders (Briggs, Denver Post 5/3/98, Echo of 93
Shootings Still Ringing in Denver).
Mayor Webb reacted swiftly to the increasing call to do something about
juvenile crime by taking visible and highly publicized steps to address the problems.
He hosted a summit of Denvers law enforcement community, politicians, and
citizens. He created a Plan for a Safe City, which was a $7 million strategy that
included hundreds of new jobs for youths, new recreational programs, a vigorously
enforced curfew and the harshest crackdown ever on street gangs22 (id). He further
22 Modelled on Los Angeles Operation Hammer
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ordered law enforcement officials to restructure the way they policed juveniles and
patrolled neighborhoods and made available $1 million in annual grants for programs
targeting issues related to juvenile violence (Hughes, Denver Post 5/3/98, New Laws,
Programs Yield Results).
During a news conference held on November 9, 1993, Mayor Webb called on
the clergy to pray for help in dealing with kids and guns. Christians and non-
Christians were invited to attend Denvers Day of Prayer on December 5, 1993, at
the Colorado Convention Center. Mayor Webb formed the Interfaith Religious
Coordinating Committee, comprised of religious leaders from different areas of
Denver, to work on the event. Nine clergy members representing a variety of
religions were present at the news conference and expressed the hopes of
recapturing] the same energy and lawfulness that was displayed during Pope John
Paul Hs World Youth Day visit (Lopez, Denver Post 11/10/93, Webb Sets Day of
Prayer Service to Seek Help on Violence).
Another step taken by Mayor Webb was to create impact units with teams
of police officers. The goal was to target gang-related crime and problems. Beth
McCann, Denver manager of safety during the summer of 1993, said, We now have
highly trained police officers in every district of the city who are dedicated to
attacking gang violence and closing down drug houses (Eddy, Denver Post 8/6/93,
Police Nab Guns, Make 435 Arrests). He also called for charging kids with
70


violations of state weapons statutes rather than city gun laws, introduced mandatory
sentencing for violations of municipal weapons ordinances and an electronic home-
monitoring system to be set up by McCanns office (id). He appointed a 30-member
planning committee to address youth violence. The committee was comprised of
government officials, police officers, ex-gang members, judges and private citizens
(Lopez, Denver Post 7/31/93, Panel Begins Study of Youth Violence).
Speaking of that summer, Mayor Webb holds that the events of that summer
had the impact of unifying neighborhoods and strengthening the resolve of
neighborhood groups to ensure that their streets were safe and not giving in to crime.
He says, I think that it brought out the best of much of our community (Briggs,
Denver Post 5/3/98, Echo of 93 Shootings Still Ringing in Denver).
Governor Romer also reacted swiftly to the demands to do something.
Romer, in proposing his outline for actions to be taken to curb the perceived
explosion in juvenile crime, said in 1993, Were at a crisis. We need to take the
most serious offenders among juveniles hardened, repeat offenders and sort them
out. Theyre not well handled in the (current) juvenile system (Gavin, Denver Post
9/5/93, It Will Be Five Days at Hard Labor). Governor Romer announced plans for
a special session of the legislature in July 1993. The special session convened on
September 7,1993. Romers proposals for the session, including a new 300-bed
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prison to house violent juveniles from the ages of 14 years to 18 years, were focused
on punishment as a means for reducing juvenile crime (id).
Despite sentiment that prevention of juvenile crime should be given as much
consideration as punishment, Governor Romers agenda weighed heavily on the side
of punishment. That agenda included increasing potential incarceration sentences
from a maximum of 2 years to 5 years, the option of sentencing kids to adult prisons
with adult sentences, banning possession of handguns by kids under 18 years-of-age
unless they could prove they were using the weapon for licensed hunting or firearms
training, and construction of a 300-bed youth prison to be built in Pueblo (id).
The Special Session of the Legislature
and the Resulting Juvenile Laws
Perhaps the most publicized reaction to the Summer of Violence was the
calling of a special session of the legislature to combat youth violence. The fall
special session [brought] down a pound of cure on gun-toting youths (Gavin,
Denver Post 12/13/93, Legislators to Ponder Prevention). During this special
session, legislators passed tough laws banning handguns for children and setting up a
new prison system for hard-core juvenile offenders (Sanko, Rocky Mountain News
10/20/93, Lawmakers Study Bills on Violence).
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Legislation passed by the General Assembly during the special session on
juvenile violence includes the juvenile handgun law. This law prohibits people
younger than 18 years-of-age from possessing a handgun unless they can prove that it
is to be used for a legally sanctioned use such as recreational hunting or target
shooting. Any juvenile who is arrested for violating the law is confined to a juvenile
detention center for five to sixty-seven days. The juvenile has the burden of proving
that they are not a danger to themselves and their communities and therefore should
be released from detention (Dire, Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph 3/14/95, Gun
Law Fair to Juveniles, Court Says). David M. Furman, then the deputy state public
defender who handled the case challenging the handgun law and now a part-time
Denver Juvenile Magistrate, said of the law, [TJhese kids that are arrested are
detained and presumed a danger before the state even charges them. Its not like we
have kids that are guilty, its kids that havent even been charged with a crime yet.
As discussed below, the constitutionality of this law has since been challenged and
upheld by an unanimous Colorado Supreme Court decision.
Also during the special legislative session, legislators paved the way for the
Youth Offender System, a juvenile corrections program integrating boot-camp-style
discipline with education and counseling programs. Romer now says of the system,
Thats a very tough program, and its a program thats both smart and tough. The
purpose of it is to let the message out that were going to be very, very tough and
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firm if youre a juvenile and youre going to commit a serious crime (Briggs, Denver
Post 5/3/98, Echo of 93 Shootings Still Ringing in Denver).
Another major change conceived during the special session was the
controversial direct file provision discussed in greater detail below. This provision
shifted a great deal of power away from the juvenile court to decide whether
jurisdiction over individual juveniles should be retained in Juvenile Court and gave
that power directly to the District Attorneys office. As a result, the decision whether
to file charges on children in adult court are made solely by the District Attorneys
office rather than during a hearing in Juvenile Court.
An Interim Committee on Youth Violence was created during the special
legislative session in order to promulgate ideas for curbing youth violence. Among
the recommendations made by the interim committee, which became proposed
legislation during the 1994 session, was to provide additional education about
violence and gangs to Colorado schoolchildren, to create a task force for updating the
Colorado Childrens Code, and to evaluate the then current programs dealing with
troubled youth to determine if the time and money spent on them was worthwhile
(Sanko, Rocky Mountain News 11/6/93, Gang-Violence Proposals Gain Support:
Committee Hears Ideas That Include Additional Education for Children, Creation of
Task Force).
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The 1993 Interim Committee on Youth Violence, charged to study violence
and youth, found that the Colorado Childrens Code was in need of revision. In
1994, following the recommendations of the Interim Committee on Juvenile Justice,
the legislature passed An Act Concerning A Task Force Study for the Recodification
of the Colorado Childrens Code. According to the legislative declaration in
Colorado Revised Statutes 19-1.5-101, the need for forming the task force to study
and recommend changes in the Colorado Childrens Code was based upon the
following facts: (1) The Childrens Code had last been revised in 1987; (2) Since
that time, the need for supportive services and the burden upon the judicial system
had increased dramatically; (3) The increased needs were sorely straining the states
human services system, the courts, the general fund, the children and their families;
(4) Revisions to the Code since 1987 were not comprehensive and had not kept pace
with the changing needs of children and their families; (5) There was an imbalance of
treatment and aftercare services for children under then current childrens services
programs; (5) There was a great need for increased intervention and prevention
services which could and should be provided in the schools, family development
centers, or through other community resources; (6) The lack of prevention and
intervention services available to children involved in the child welfare system or for
children who commit minor status offenses often resulted in the progression of a child
into the juvenile justice system for greater offenses; (7) The services provided to
75


children and their families were duplicated and fragmented and the effectiveness of a
number of childrens services programs were undocumented; and (8) The legal
outcomes under the Code were inconsistent. Based upon these legislative
declarations, a task force was formed to study the Colorado Childrens Code and
make recommendations for its recodification to a legislative oversight committee (CO
LEGIS S.B. 94-21(1994)). The results of this committees recommendations were a
revised Childrens Code which became effective in January 1, 1997 (See Appendix
B).
The special legislative session was a crucial step in cracking down harshly on
juveniles and bringing Colorado juvenile law into line with a get tough philosophy
towards juvenile justice.
Results
The most glaring result of the special session of the legislature and
recodification of the Colorado Childrens Code was the increasing use of punishment
for juvenile offenders.
While many experts on juvenile crime offered suggestions aimed at prevention
and intervention, seemingly little attention was given to prevention of juvenile crime
or rehabilitation of juvenile offenders during the session or in the resulting Childrens
Code. According to James E. Craig, writing in the January, 1997 edition of the
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Colorado Lawyer, the recodification of the Colorado Childrens Code resulted in
significant changes in the way that Colorado courts deal with juveniles:
The new law lower[ed] the age at which juveniles [could] be
subject to district court jurisdiction by way of the transfer
procedure, eliminate[d] the right to jury trials in all but a fraction of
cases, compresse[d] the time that cases will be required to move
through the courts, increase[d] the possible length of incarceration,
and mandate[d] greater parental participation (with one notable
exception). (Craig, 1997:1)
In addition, the recodification allowed for direct file of juvenile cases in district court,
created boot camp as a sentencing option, and provided for detention of juveniles
accused of carrying a handgun. Indicative of the overall philosophy shift evidenced in
the recodification is the fact that all references to child or children under the
juvenile justice section of the code were amended to read juvenile(s) (Craig,
1997:1). The results these changes have had on juvenile crime can be measured
against the summer of 1993.
Speaking during a talk show on KRMA-TV directly after the special session
of the legislature called to address the problem of youth violence, Denver Juvenile
Court Presiding Judge Orrelle Weeks23 said, I dont think we have our priorities on
resources in order. We have new money now for lock-ups. ... Id like to see as
much spent on prevention and programs that assist troubled youth. Cant we strike
that balance? Were not dealing with the crisis or the social issues (Gottlieb,
23 Judge Weeks has since been replaced as presiding judge by Dana Wakefield.
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Denver Post 9/11/93, Youth Violence Experts Debate What to Do Next). This
expression of doubt in the effectiveness of the solutions passed by the legislature
strikes at the very issue of moving from a philosophy of parens patriae to one of
punishing the kids. State House Minority Leader Sam Williams acknowledged prior
to the session that The criminal justice system by itself can have limited impact on
juvenile crime. The most effective juvenile crime reduction strategy must focus on
social and economic factors known to be related to high juvenile crime rates
(Lipsher, Denver Post 8/6/93, Democrats Stump for Special Session).
However sensational the headlines during the Summer of Violence and the
quickness of the responses, the results of those responses do not exactly justify the
quickness with which they were enacted. Jim Hughes, a Denver Post staff writer,
looked at the results of the combined responses to the so-called Summer of
Violence (Hughes, Denver Post 5/3/98, New Laws, Programs Yield Results). What
he discovered suggests that the results of the crack-down on juvenile crime are mixed.
He found that juvenile crime in Denver had been declining since 1993 but rose sharply
in 1997, but statewide, violent juvenile crime has dropped. According to analysis of
The Colorado Bureau of Investigations statistics done by the Denver Post,
Colorados juveniles are overall less violent that they were in 1993 (id). For the time
period between 1993 and 1996, there was an almost 28% drop in juveniles arrested
78


for murder or manslaughter,24 an almost 25% drop in juveniles arrested for assault,25
an almost 25% drop in juveniles arrested on weapons charges,26 and over 14% drop
in juveniles arrested for burglary27 (id). However, juvenile arrests for rape and
robbery have increased statewide. For the time period between 1993 and 1996, there
was an almost 10% rise in juveniles arrested for forcible rape,28 and an approximate
2% rise in juveniles arrested for robbery29 (id).
According to statistics compiled by the Denver Police Department, by 1997
the numbers of juveniles arrested in Denver had gone up nearly 25% (id). Those
same numbers show that there were only four juveniles arrested for murder or
manslaughter in 1997, down from 26 in 1993, while there was a 53% increase in
24 In 1993, there were 43 juveniles arrested for murder or manslaughter. In 1996, 31 juveniles were
arrested on those charges (Hughes, Denver Post, 1998).
25 In 1993, there were 5,536 juveniles arrested for assault. In 1996,4,171 juveniles were arrested for
those charges (id).
26 In 1993, there were 1,236 juveniles arrested on weapons charges. In 1996, 930 juveniles were
arrested on those charges (id).
27 In 1993, there were 1,847 juveniles arrested on burglary charges. In 1996, 1,581 juveniles were
arrested on those charges (id).
28 In 1993, there were 84 juveniles arrested for forcible rape. In 1996, 92 juveniles were arrested on
those charges. In 1994 and 1995, there were less juveniles arrested for forcible rape that in 1993
(id).
29 In 1993, there were 304 juveniles arrested for robbery. In 1996, 311 juveniles were arrested on
those same charges (id).
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juveniles arrested for rape by 199730 (id). Mayor Webb blames the current rise in the
juvenile arrest rate on the fact that new teenagers, newly exposed to the streets, are
just now hitting the streets (id). Governor Romer sees the problem as a cultural one
and calls on parents to play a more active role in steering their children in the right
direction. Even though weve made some progress, this is something that cant be
cured by punitive or correctional action alone. Its a cultural problem (id).
Conclusion
With the recodification of the Childrens Code, the Denver juvenile justice
system has taken a decided turn in the direction of the get tough or punishment
philosophy as its guiding force. Sparked by the media attention and resulting outcry
during the Summer of Violence and fueled by increasing demands to do
something about juvenile crime, the Colorado General Assembly has solidified the
get tough philosophy into law by changing the Colorado Childrens Code to reflect
that philosophy in its harsher laws and even its refusal to call children by any other
name than juveniles. Under the recodified Childrens Code, no longer can children
in the Denver juvenile justice system count on being treated with rehabilitation in
mind. Instead, they are more and more likely to find themselves treated as adults who
30 In 1993, there were 44 juveniles arrested for rape. In 1997, 67 juveniles were arrested on those
same charges (id).
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must simply face increasing punishment as the preferred method for dealing with
juvenile crime [See Appendix B],
81


CHAPTER 4
RECURRING THEMES IN DENVERS
JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
As part of my research for this thesis, I conducted interviews with juvenile
justice professionals that work within the juvenile justice system in Denver. In the
appendix, the paper will present the results of interviews with some of these key
players in the Denver juvenile justice system [See Appendix C]. In choosing the
people to be interviewed, I used my experience in the juvenile justice system as an
intern with the District Attorneys office as to who played key roles in the system, I
read reports and articles concerning the juvenile justice system in Denver to ascertain
key players, and I always asked those that I interviewed who else they would
recommend I speak with as a means of determining who the key players considered to
be important within the system. In addition, I read newspaper articles, legislative acts
and committee reports to gather names of people to be interviewed. Unfortunately,
time constraints and scheduling conflicts prevented me from speaking with all of the
people I would ideally have chosen to interview but I tried to gather as wide a
perspective on the juvenile justice system as possible.
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I spoke with a juvenile magistrate and two judges in Denver Juvenile Court in
order to determine the different philosophical predilections each applies to their job.
It is the magistrates and judges who have the most power to decide the fates of the
children in the system and I sought to determine if and how their personal
philosophies dictate their decisions. I also interviewed Karen Steinhauser, the Chief
Deputy District Attorney in Denvers juvenile unit. Next to the magistrates and
judges, Ms. Steinhauser has the most control over what happens to a child who enters
the system by deciding which children will be tried as adults, which will have petitions
filed in juvenile court, which are potentially eligible for the Diversion program, and
which cases will be dismissed. I sought to learn what Ms. Steinhauser bases her
decisions upon and the philosophy she subscribes to concerning the children with
which she is charged. I also spoke with Vel Gamer, the director of the Gilliam
Youth Center29 to elicit her opinions of the system and how she sees it from inside the
detention center. Again, I was interested in her personal philosophy and how she
applies that to her job as caretaker of the children as they enter the system or serve
time in detention. I also canvassed attorneys who work in the system as defense
counsel or Guardians ad Litem30 for the children. These people work with the kids
29 Denvers juvenile detention facility, located in the Five Points neighborhood. This is the
destination for children when they are taken into custody, while they await a detention hearing, and
when they are serving time in detention.
30 A Guardian ad Litem is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the best interest of the
child (as opposed to the childs legal interests).
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every day and must make difficult decisions about the best interest of these children
and then present their thoughts to a court which may or may not give weight to their
opinions. I wanted to hear from these lawyers how they view their positions, and
again to examine their personal philosophies about the role of the juvenile system,
both how it is and how it should be.
I interviewed Asa Belton, a veteran juvenile probation officer in Denver in an
attempt to learn how he viewed the system from his enforcement perspective, what
philosophy he believed the system to be based upon and what philosophy it should be
based on. Finally, I spoke with Cindy Torres, a Victim Advocate with the Denver
District Attorneys office and Moira Cullen with the Colorado Childrens Campaign.
People who have differing interests in the system may have differing beliefs as to the
best philosophy or approach for dealing with the kids. I sought as broad a spectrum
as possible of the philosophies held by the players in the juvenile system. The results
of these interviews are presented in Appendix C.
I also observed the Denver Juvenile Court as it held hearings and watched
detention hearings at Gilliam to see how the magistrates and judges that I interviewed
apply their philosophies in the courtroom. As part of my observations, I toured
juvenile facilities where children are held to personally view the results of the current
philosophy for treatment of our kids in the juvenile justice system.
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While conducting my interviews with professionals within the juvenile justice
system, several issues kept recurring. Many were problems facing the system today
such as lack of and misplaced allocation of resources and rising fear of juvenile crime,
others were in the form of answers to those problems such as collaboration,
prevention, and immediate consequences for kids actions, and still others concerned
legislative reactions. It was striking how many of the same issues were brought up by
many different people, coming from many different viewpoints.
Lack of Resources
Almost every juvenile justice profession that I spoke with indicated that one
of the primary problems facing the juvenile justice system today is lack of money and
resources. While the reasons suggested for the lack of resources varied somewhat,
the consensus was clear that the juvenile justice system is suffering from lack of
funding. With the system thats in place, the aspect that needs to get better is more
money, more grants, more treatment programs, James Covino,31 Alternative Defense
Counsel for juveniles32 and former lead Public Defender in the Denver Juvenile Unit,
31 Mr. Covino has a background in counseling and received his law degree from the University of
Denver in 1988. He served as a Public Defender for seven years, including serving as head of the
Denver Juvenile Division, before opening his private law practice which is focused on criminal
defense and juvenile law. Jim serves as Alternate Defense Counsel, is a member of the Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in Colorado, was active in creating the Community
Assessment Center, and served on the Task Force for the Recodification of the Childrens Code.
32 Alternative Defense Counsel is a defense attorney that is appointed by the court to represent a
juvenile when that child qualifies for court-appointed counsel but the Public Defenders office has a
conflict or for some other reason cannot represent the child.
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opined. [I]f there were more of a mandate to treat as opposed to incarcerate, the
money might be sought after more aggressively or there might be more money freed
up as opposed to building facilities such as the brand new juvenile facility built down
in southern Colorado. Committing kids is huge.
This opinion of lack of resources was repeated many times over. Karen
Steinhauser,33 Chief Deputy District Attorney in the Denver Juvenile Unit, said:
So much of it comes down to money and resources. Weve got a
ton of kids that need residential treatment and the waiting list . ..
The best treatment facility for girls has about a years waiting list.
So, none of our kids are going to get in. And what do you do in
the meantime? And then I think like with Social Services, so much
of it comes down to whos paying for what? A kind of Wheres
there a bed open? as opposed to Whats the best place for this
kid? I mean so much of it is just resources. Theres not enough
facilities for kids, theres not enough facilities to treat really
mentally ill kids.
Gale Drexler,34 an attorney who serves as a Guardian ad Litem for juveniles,
acknowledges that, Services are terrible. There are not enough services and theres
not enough money. Everything comes back down to the money side of it. Likewise,
33 Ms. Steinhauser received her law degree from Drake University in 1981. She has been with the
Denver District Attorneys office since that time and is currently die Chief Deputy District Attorney
in charge of the Juvenile Unit. She has held this position for five years from which she has been one
of the most active members of the profession of juvenile law.
34 Ms. Drexler received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1972. She began in the
Attorney Generals office and has been in private practice since 1977. Gale avoids criminal defense
because of the responsibility involved in being responsible for a persons life and liberty. She
focuses primarily on domestic cases and serves extensively as Guardian ad Litem in dependency and
neglect cases and therefore her philosophy and perspective addresses the abuse angle of the juvenile
justice system rather than the delinquency.
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Vel Gamer,35 who is the Director of Gilliam Youth Detention Center, adds that: It
takes the resources to do some of these things. And the resources are what were
short on. Unless you get some kind folks in who just want to do things, its tougher.
. . What I think [we] should do is, when you have scarce resources, put those
resources on the ones you know youre going to be able to impact. Based upon the
interviews I conducted, one issue within the juvenile justice system that is not in
dispute is the lack of resources.
In one of my most fascinating interviews, Asa Belton,36 an eight-year veteran
as a Juvenile Probation Officer in Denver, described the lack of resources in the
system by explaining how that lack of resources has affected his work in the
probation department:
[0]ne of the major problems that were having right now I think
with juveniles in general, is that the case loads are three and four
times what they should be. As a result, you end up putting out fires
rather than going for good, solid case management. Ive got close
to 100 kids now and I should have something like 30 or 35 at the
most. If the case loads are kept lower and you work them more
intensely ... if we are to be successful, that would be the only
conditions under which we would be successful.
35 Ms. Gamers educational background includes a Masters in Administration and she has
completed the doctoral work for Public Administration with a focus on public policy. She began her
career in the juvenile system as Director of Health and Psychological Services in juvenile
corrections, she spent seven years as vice-chair of the adult parole board, and she has been Director
at Gilliam for the last six years.
36 Mr. Belton has been a juvenile probation officer in Denver for eight years. He holds a Masters
degree in counseling, has served as a correctional officer, has taught college level courses aimed at
preventing delinquency through a cognitive approach, and has worked at LookOut Mountain School
for Boys and Colorado Psychiatric Hospital.
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Likewise, Joni Speirs,37 current lead attorney in the Public Defenders Juvenile Unit,
illustrates how the lack of resources affects the juvenile system by suggesting that:
Any time you set out to teach a child appropriate behavior, it takes
time and effort. And it also takes attention. . And while the
juvenile system was originally designed to do that, it is a system
that has become overwhelmed by the sheer number of kids that
need attention. And theres not the equal amount of resources,
money, people involved to give the attention that they need to have.
. . And its really unfortunate because it... has a good basis. But
Im really convinced that the fact that the system is so
overwhelmed, money is not coming into the system, and in the
same amount to help take care of these problems, that the system is
sometimes just as bad or sometimes worse than a neglectful parent.
Again, there is widespread agreement within the juvenile justice system that
one major obstacle to its success is the lack of funding. Dispute only arises
concerning the basis for that shortage. Some believe that it is based upon legislative
and community lack of support for rehabilitative services while others see it as based
upon the fact that the system is simply overwhelmed by the increasing number of kids
entering. Regardless of the reasons for its underfunding, according to those within
the system, increased funding and resources are absolutely essential to ameliorating
the problems facing the system today regardless of the philosophy which drives that
system.
37 Ms. Speirs received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver School of Law in 1989.
She has worked as a public defender for ten years and is currently the supervisor or lead public
defender in the juvenile division.
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Collaboration
Another key concept that arose in many of my discussions with juvenile
justice professionals was that of collaboration among all those that serve in the
system. There seemed to be a consensus that collaboration of juvenile justice
professionals is necessary to address the problems facing the system regardless of the
philosophical bent of those professionals. Judge Dana Wakefield,38 of the Denver
Juvenile Court, said, [I]t takes collaboration, which is one of the buzzwords of the
90s. I think collaboration is one of those things that will survive the ages. Getting
the various and sundry agencies to talk to each other.
How the collaboration concept is or needs to be implemented was clearly
described by several interviewees. Judge Wakefield described its implementation in
this way:
One of the ways it happens is the OJJDP39 office requires it right
now. And I think it will become a habit. If you want any federal
38 Mr. Wakefield graduated from Swarthmore College in 1969 and received his law degree in 1972.
He began his career in the Denver District Attorneys office under Dale Tooley. From 1974 to 1980,
he handled the prosecution of juvenile delinquency, the last three years as Deputy Chief in charge of
the Juvenile Division. In December of 1979, he was appointed to the bench in juvenile court and
took office on January 11,1980. He has served as a judge in the Denver Juvenile Court since that
time.
39 The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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money, youve got to collaborate within the community. I cant go
and apply for a grant on behalf of the court anymore. You have to
collaborate. This truancy reduction program, at the table today we
had private lawyers, we had a school lawyer, we had school social
workers, we had the Denver Department of Human Services, and
we had the District Attorneys office all at the table. . And that
collaboration, I think, has been one of the movements that may go
beyond being a fad.
Similarly, Vel Gamer firmly believes that the system simply cannot be successful
without collaboration and communication among the many different professionals
involved. Her opinion is that:
I think that the one thing we ought to push for overall is some
serious collaboration among all kid-serving agencies. Theres a
required, essential reality. Because the worst thing we can do is not
know what the other half is doing. And if we were to know
sooner, maybe we can prevent some of this stuff. . And I think
its imperative that we share information a little better, that we
break down the barriers of confidential information so that the kid,
we ought to be able to share with each other for the sole purpose of
trying to establish a plan thats gonna get everybodys piece
connected to whatevers going to be done with the kid.
She describes how the kids within the system are aware of the weakness that comes
from lack of collaboration:
The kids know that what the school knows, the social worker
doesnt know, the police dont know, the probation officer doesnt
know. So its like, they play the game over and over again with
different people. And theyre working on it. There are systems
being put in place that get those people to collaborate. I mean real
collaboration. We had everybody from the public defenders office,
the district attorneys office, law enforcement, schools ....
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Regardless of the philosophical approach advocated by each individual and
the goal believed to be desirable for the system, collaboration was seen as a necessary
step in reaching success. Victim Advocate Cindy Torres,40 a get tough advocate,
says, I think its got to be a combination of all of us working to get [goals]
changed. On the other side of the philosophical spectrum, Larry Botnick,41 the
Mental Health Director for the Gilliam Youth Detention Center and a rehabilitative
advocate, also embraces the idea of collaboration by saying, Im really into the
systems approach. I see all systems kind of working together. The social services
system, the mental health system, the juvenile justice system.
This collaboration has been successful in creating the Denver Juvenile Drug
Court and the Community Assessment Center described earlier. Like the efforts
described in the Juvenile Drug Court above, the concept of collaboration goes back
to the foundation of the juvenile court system, the concept of parens patriae. Under
this concept the state has an obligation to work in the best interest of the child. The
major difference between this founding concept and the modem understanding of
40 Ms. Torres has been with the Denver District Attorneys office for 21 years. She has served in
the Juvenile Diversion program, was instrumental in forming a student jury panel, and has been in
the Juvenile Unit and Domestic Violence Unit. She has been a Victim Advocate for the past four
years.
41 Mr. Botnick received his M.S.W. in 1991 and has been in the mental health field since 1985. He
instituted the Jefferson County Diversion Program in conjunction with the District Attorneys Office.
Primarily he has worked with adolescent units atarea mental health hospitals. He sits on the Senate
Bill 94 Committee which provides money to kids for mental health needs as well as the Governors
Committee for Mental Health Standards and Policies.
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collaboration is that it is no longer simply the best interest of the child that is the
primary focus of its promoters. Today, collaboration is advocated by those in the
system that advocate for the children, society and the victims of crime as a method
for creating solutions for the problems facing the juvenile justice system.
Increasing Fear of Juvenile Crime
While statistics show that crime is decreasing, the same statistics show that
violent crimes among juveniles are increasing. There can be no doubt that the face of
juvenile crime has changed in recent years. Not only have the crimes become
increasingly violent but the manner in which they are portrayed has become
increasingly sensationalized. The perception of juvenile crime is that it is out-of-
control, random and that society is no longer safe from its children. This fear is a
driving force behind the shifting philosophy of the juvenile justice system from one
that is primarily concerned with rehabilitating children to one that is less so than in the
past and becoming increasingly concerned with punishing them or locking them up in
the name of community safety.
This perception of children becoming increasingly violent and out-of-control
is clearly alive in the juvenile justice profession. Ms. Steinhauser, who has been with
the district attorneys office since 1982, describes the changing scenario in terms of
juvenile crimes as:
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