Colorado lawmakers call for more transparency after Gazette report on youth corrections

From The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Colorado lawmakers are calling for greater transparency at the Division of Youth Corrections after a Gazette investigative report published Sunday uncovered continued problems in the state’s 10 juvenile corrections facilities, including the use of solitary confinement.

Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, said that he has requested statistics on the continued use of administrative seclusion, what the department calls isolation, and access to use-of-force reports that detail when guards have physical contact with youth who are acting out.

The Department of Human Services said it is working to fulfill Lee’s request.

Lee said he hopes to get a better picture of what’s occurring behind closed doors.

“I think they know what they’re supposed to be doing,” Lee said. “I would like to know what kind of help they want from us to help them implement these policies.”

The Gazette found, among other things, that despite agreeing to stop the use of isolation as a punishment in June 2014, juveniles still are frequently put in isolation rooms after conflicts arise. In some instances, that use stretched on for hours – in the longest period since the policy changed it was 49 hours.

“It sounds like their new administrative seclusion policy is consistent with best practices,” Lee said. “The proof is in how they implement it.”

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