Closure to send West Slope teens to Front Range detention centers | PostIndependent.com

Closure to send West Slope teens to Front Range detention centers

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” When Colorado West’s Juvenile Program closes its doors May 1, youth serving time at the Glenwood Springs location will be transferred to corrections facilities in Grand Junction and on the Front Range.

Since October 1993, the program has provided residential detention for youth offenders, aged 14 to 18, who have committed offenses ranging from petty theft to illegal drug activity.

The majority of teens in the program come from the Western Slope, with a small percentage from the Front Range.

The program’s annual budget ” at $1.1 million ” continued to exceed funding it receives from the Colorado Department of Youth Corrections and Medicaid. For the 2004 fiscal year, which runs from July 2003 to June 2004, the program is projected to go over budget by approximately $230,000.

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“Colorado West can no longer afford to sustain that level of economic impact,” explained Colorado West executive director Ken Stein.

Juvenile program director Sue Horn said Colorado West staff decided to end the program rather than operate at a sub-standard level.

“Based on the money available, all we could do was a bare-bones program here,” she said. “We weren’t able to provide the quality program we wanted, since our costs continued to exceed the funding we receive.”

The program is housed in Colorado West’s administration building off Highway 82, near the CMC turnoff south of Glenwood Springs.

Girls and boys are divided into separate units, with two youths per room. The facility has 17 beds in the boys’ unit and six beds in the girls’ unit. Each unit also has a kitchen, classrooms, a day room, and office space.

Horn said teens are screened before entering the program, and it won’t take youth with a history of “assaultive behaviors.”

The average length of stay at the facility is six months. A few of the beds are reserved for YouthZone’s diversion program, which allows alternatives to typical detention for youths who have committed lesser offenses.

Staff is on site 24 hours a day, and although there are no locks or fences at the facility, the teens are carefully monitored. Some are allowed, on a case-by-case basis, to leave the facility with staff supervision, while others are allowed to go to job training or work release on their own.

Horn said many of the teens have mental health issues, and receive counseling from Colorado West therapists.

Teens currently living at the facility will be transferred to other youth detention centers in Colorado.

With the facility closing, Horn said it hasn’t been determined what Colorado West will do with the juvenile program’s residential spaces.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

cclick@postindependent.com


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