DENVER (KDVR) — The Problem Solvers continue to investigate Colorado’s limit on spaces for juveniles who have been arrested and await trial.
Right now, the state’s cap is at 215, a number that has continuously gone down since 2003. Some local district attorneys said this law is not making the streets safer.
“Youth violence is one of the biggest problems we’re facing right now,” said Brian Mason, the 17th Judicial District attorney, suggesting this legislation is harmful to public safety.
“Every day this week, my staff has had to have a meeting where we’ve talked about who is the least dangerous kid on this list that we have to let out in order to open up a bed for someone who is more dangerous,” Mason said.
The 17th Judicial District covers Adams and Broomfield Counties, an area that has seen an abundance of incidents involving teens in the last year.
“We had three back-to-back-to-back shootouts this fall, and they were all involving kids,” Mason said.
“These are 15- to 20-year-olds with guns,” he added.
Most kids charged with murder, attempted murder
This week, the Brighton Police Department announced the arrest of a 15-year-old girl in connection to a homicide in Mason’s district. She’s been booked into that district’s detention center on murder charges.
“An arbitrary bed cap literally makes our communities less safe,” Mason said.
Out of the 215 beds capped statewide for juveniles detained and awaiting trial, Mason said his district only has 17 available.
“Twelve of the kids who are in those 17 beds have been charged with murder or attempted murder,” he said.
The FOX31 Data Desk looked into the numbers and found the number of violent crime offenders under the age of 18 in Colorado has been consistently high since 2018.
“I’m a Democrat who believes in investing in kids, and who believes in investing in schools, but also who believes in community safety and protecting my community. That is my job,” Mason said.
“I need this bed cap space issue to be addressed in order for me to do that,” he added.
Republican, Democratic DAs agree on bed cap issue
Earlier this week, FOX31 spoke with the Colorado American Civil Liberties Union, which said the number of beds isn’t the problem. It’s the lack of funding for resources in these facilities.
Mason is not the only district attorney who feels this way. The 18th Judicial District attorney, John Kellner, also sent a lengthy statement to the FOX31 newsroom about how he believes this legislation is threatening, and he’s a Republican.
FOX31 reached out to the backers of this bill and is hoping to hear from them soon.