About half the Colorado teens who graduated from an experimental prison program dealing with violent young adults remained felony-free five years later, says the Rocky Mountain News. The statistic is remarkable, a state report says, given the “hard core” clientele and the fact the 10-year-old Youthful Offender System (YOS) showed some problems in a recent assessment, including reports of some staff abuse of offenders, little drug counseling, and rehab programs hurt by staff cutbacks. “The bottom line is they are doing a very good job with limited resources,” said Ray Slaughter, executive director of the Division of Criminal Justice.
The report is the first major analysis of recidivism in the YOS since it was created in response to Denver’s 1993 “summer of violence.” The program includes a boot camp, counseling, educational classes, and training in life skills. The 53 percent of program participants with new felony charges is on par with that of the overall adult inmate population in the Colorado Department of Corrections, which includes both violent and nonviolent criminals. Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant said that, “Over the years, I’ve been pretty impressed with what they’ve been able to do with a very hard-core population.” Just 20.3 percent of the YOS population was convicted and returned to prison within three years of release.