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Lopsided percentages of young people charged as adults in Colorado courts appear to be ethic minority youth, an apparent bias rights activists suggest should be examined, especially given that Colorado is one of only 14 states in the country to embrace the hard-line "direct file" system, where district attorneys decide, without judicial review, whom to try as adults. According to analysts, the "direct file" system can be counterproductive and, in Colorado at least, is plagued by inadequate data collection and review. Indeed, even the most basic information, like the ethnic makeup of the juveniles being charged with adult crimes, is unreliable or simply not collected.
DENVER-- Colorado state Senator Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, is weighing strategies to secure passage of a bill she's sponsoring that seeks to ensure youth prisoners charged as adults receive education. Lawmakers have signaled that any bill that requires new spending will likely fail this session. There are currently more than 130 young prisoners in Colorado awaiting trial whose constitutional rights to an education are not being met.
DENVER-- Juvenile suspects awaiting trial as adults in Colorado jails languish without education, sometimes held in solitary confinement while they wait for their day in court. The harsh conditions come partly as a fact of the state's more generally overcrowded prison facilities, where the young people are held in adult prisons, shunted into solitary confinement in order simply to keep them segregated from the adult population. State Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, told the Colorado Independent that young people held in these conditions have committed suicide.