Bill to Restrict Charging Juveniles as Adults Advances

March 12 2008, 10:37 AM

A bill to require judicial approval before charging 14 and 15 year olds as adults has passed the Colorado House . It now goes to the Senate. A Democratic legislator predicts Governor Ritter will veto the bill if it passes, since he was a proponent of the 1993 law granting prosecutors the sole discretion in juvenile charging decisions. Ritter's spokesman Evan Dreyer says the Governor has not made up his mind.

"Yes, he does have firsthand knowledge of the genesis of the legislation," Dreyer said. "But that's not to say he is predisposed one way or another."

As Governor, Ritter has shown some promise as a leader determined to be smart, not just tough, about crime. As the bill's sponsor says:

Bill sponsor Claire Levy, D-Boulder, said helping teens through youth programs is more humane and cost-effective than housing them for decades in prison. "We're a lot smarter now about what causes crime," Levy said. "We're putting (young criminals) into a system that brutalizes them."

The bill doesn't prevent charging juveniles as adults, it just requires judicial approval. It's a smart bill that I hope now passes the Senate and survives the Governor's veto pen.

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