- Associated Press - Thursday, March 1, 2018

DENVER (AP) - The number of assaults in Colorado youth detention centers has dropped as efforts to reform the system are taking hold, according to state data.

The state Division of Youth Services has seen a decrease in assaults per month on staff members by the youths, dropping from 22 in December 2015 to 12 in January, The Denver Post reported Monday.

The division has also decreased the number of times youths are isolated, dropping seclusion stays from more than 302 per month two years ago to 94 in January. Each stay averaged about 35 minutes.

The number decreases come as the division implemented sweeping reforms ordered by the state Legislature last year. Division officials said reforms were in the works before the Legislature took action.

Increased funding has led the division to hire 209 new employees in the last three years, improving the ratios of staff members to youths. At seven of the 10 youth centers, there are one staff member for every eight youths. The previous ratio was 1-to-16.

The reforms have also targeted the culture of the system, demonstrated by the renaming of corrections officers to youth services specialists. The job descriptions have also changed to attract candidates who want to “engage with youth and build positive relationships,” said Anders Jacobson, director of the division.

About half the centers have adopted new uniforms for the youths, ditching the hospital-like scrubs in favor of polo shirts and khaki pants. Some centers have undergone remodeling, bringing in better furniture and softer paint colors.


Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com

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