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Poll Finds Support for Reducing Juvenile Sentences

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A new poll taken of Coloradans shows support for reducing the draconian sentences imposed on teenagers who have been convicted of serious offenses and sentenced to adult time.

A majority of Colorado residents support sweeping legal reforms that would reduce long prison sentences for juveniles convicted of violent crimes and require them to be housed separately from adults, according to a newly released poll. The results of the poll, paid for by Denver’s Pendulum Juvenile Justice, could help fuel a ballot drive for 2006 that would tackle such changes.

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Sixty-two percent of those polled favor allowing judges, instead of prosecutors, to decide whether juveniles should be tried as adults.

The Rocky Mountain News has been running a series since Saturday on Colorado’s 46 teenagers serving life sentences for murder. The series also examines some potential causes of their crimes. For example, one of the reasons that teens show poor judgement is that their brains are not fully formed. Check out these images that show the difference in brain development. You can read more in this 1997 report, High Country Lockup. Should we give up on these kids? Many of them are poor, disadvantaged and left behind in our society. We need to find a way to give every one of them an equal chance to succeed. We need to break the cycle. Life without parole is not the answer.

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