DA’s Authority In Colorado Juvenile Cases Debated

March 16, 2012 12:00 AM

DA’s Authority In Colorado Juvenile Cases Debated
" DENVER (AP) – Colorado lawmakers who want to reduce prosecutors’ authority to charge children as adults moved forward with legislation Friday that addresses the sometimes touchy issue of how to treat youth in the criminal justice system.

During debate, one lawmaker recounted the death of a childhood friend in a drive-by shooting during Denver’s so-called “Summer of Violence” in 1993 – the impetus for expanding prosecutors’ power to charge children as adults for more types of crimes.

Prosecutors could only charge juveniles as adults for the most serious crimes, like murder, before the change nearly two decades ago. Now some legislators worry that too many youths are being charged as adults for lower-level felonies, such as burglary. Critics say prosecutors have too much power because such decisions are not reviewable by a judge. Lawmakers want judges to review those decisions.

Colorado and a handful of states allow prosecutors to charge juveniles as adults without judicial review, according to lawmakers.

But supporters of the current system say prosecutors are best equipped to make charging decisions and that there’s no evidence district attorneys are abusing their power.

Democratic Rep "

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