Colorado Division of Youth Services decreases youth population by 30%

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DENVER (June 9, 2020) — Today, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) announced the overall combined population of the Division of Youth Services (DYS) has been reduced by 30% since March 1. Demonstrating the State’s clear commitment to safely reduce and manage population swiftly within secure youth centers, the overall population within DYS secure youth centers was reduced by 178 youth.

DYS numbers table

DYS, under the Executive Order D 2020 034 of Gov. Jared Polis, moved quickly and thoughtfully to safely reduce and manage the youth population within state-secure youth centers, to keep staff and youth safe from COVID-19. These efforts were successful due to the tremendous partnerships from across the juvenile justice community. 

“DYS worked diligently with stakeholders such as victim advocates, law enforcement, judicial officials and youth advocates in balancing public safety, the needs of youth in each center, and creating appropriate physical distancing in early release,” said DYS Division Director Anders Jacobson. “This process was an effective step in helping DYS respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The executive order allowed DYS to release youth with non-violent and non-aggravated offenses early on parole with supervision and services in the community, enabling youth centers to manage physical distancing recommendations. DYS assessed each youth for his or her risk to public safety to determine if he or she was eligible for early release on parole.

“The division appreciates the confidence extended to DYS throughout the executive order to make thoughtful, internal decisions for parole release and to make a significant impact on the population within the DYS state-secure youth centers,” said Office of Children, Youth and Families Director Minna Castillo Cohen. “The method used to transition youth out of secure care will continue to be a thoughtful process, while simultaneously balancing the need to maintain appropriate census within each of the State’s secure youth centers.”

The CDHS Division of Youth Services (DYS) provides for the care and supervision of youth committed by the District Court to the custody of CDHS. DYS operates 12 secure youth centers that serve youth between the ages of 10-21 who are pre-adjudicated or committed. In addition to residential programming, DYS administers juvenile parole services throughout Colorado. 

For more information, visit the DYS website or the COVID-19 stakeholder guide.

Media contact:
Madlynn Ruble, Deputy Director of Communications