Children's Code Authorization:
Colorado Revised Statutes, 19-2-303 (1974), authorized the establishment of Juvenile Diversion programs as an alternative to the formal court system. The goal is to reduce juvenile crime, recidivism, change juvenile offenders’ behavior and attitudes and reduce the cost within the juvenile justice system. Services that can be offered but are not limited to diagnostic needs assessment, restitution programs, community service, job training and placement, specialized tutoring, constructive recreational activities, general counseling, counseling during a crisis situation, and follow-up activities.
The Denver Juvenile Diversion Program is an alternative to the traditional court process for eligible first-time juvenile offenders. The primary goal is to prevent further contact with the police and criminal justice system by providing a variety of services to meet individual, family and community needs. These young people are referred to as clients, and participate in Diversion with their parent or guardian.
Diversion programs focus on teaching skills and providing opportunities to practice those skills. Clients are assigned to programs based on their need. The length of time in Diversion varies depending upon the individual needs of the client, but a participant must perform a minimum of 30 hours of community service, and complete restitution.
Sampling of Juvenile Diversion Programs:
These are group settings in which clients learn such things as life skills, problem solving, conflict resolution, critical thinking and reasoning skills. Groups are based on gender and age.
This includes Educational Enhancement and Substance Abuse Screening and Treatment. Clients in the Educational Enhancement program receive visits at school by staff members, and get regular feedback about attendance, behavior and performance. They may also be involved in a tutoring program that provides homework help and topic-specific instruction. A full service computer lab including Microsoft Word and the internet is available, along with English as a second language. Substance Abuse Screening is conducted on all clients. Referrals are made to the TASC program for those clients with substance abuse issues.
Clients may take part in family therapy, which includes family sessions as well as individual counseling sessions. Families can be referred to Multisystemic or Functional Family Therapy, two evidence based programs that pave the way for motivating clients and their families to become more adaptive and successful in their own lives.
Restorative Justice Programs:
The office understands the importance of repairing harm done directly to the victim. Diversion has two core restitution programs to help clients financially restore the victim. In the ARTT program (Acquiring Restitution Through Talent), clients make and sell art items to the public with 100% of the proceeds being sent directly to victims. The Work Program offers clients the opportunity to work a full day shift at various non-profit organizations while earning a stipend to repay their victim.
In a number of cases, the victims of crime or community members affected by crime can meet face to face with the person who committed the crime. This process involves trained staff and/or community members who help ensure both the victim and offender receive answers to their questions as they work toward restoration and closure.
Juveniles who commit a misdemeanor or felony property offense, and meet the following criteria may be offered Diversion services in lieu of formal court proceedings. Diversion does not discriminate due to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.
Clients must meet the following criteria:
- Clients between the ages of 10 and 17 at the time of the offense.
- Clients admit their guilt, culpability and/or involvement in the offense.
- Clients have not previously participated in a state level Diversion Program.
- Clients do not have past or pending state court cases in Denver or other judicial districts.
- Clients and their parent/guardian voluntarily agree to participate in the program.
- Clients agree to and do comply with the Juvenile Diversion Contract.
- The services available in Diversion are appropriate and meet the needs of the client.
In general, clients who have committed a Felony 3, 4, 5 or Felony 6 property offense and/or a Misdemeanor 1, 2 or 3 are eligible for Diversion. At the discretion of the District Attorney’s Office clients who have committed a misdemeanor resulting in an assault charge against their parents and/or siblings may be allowed to participate in the program. These clients and their parents/guardians must agree to participate in family counseling as well as other Diversion programs.
If a child is not involved in the Juvenile Justice System and a parent or guardian is concerned about his/her behavior, feel free to contact the Denver Juvenile Services Center at 720-913-8980, or click here for a free and confidential consultation.