Representation for juvenile offenders

By: 11 News Desk Email
By: 11 News Desk Email

DENVER, Colo. (AP) -- Colorado lawmakers concerned that juvenile offenders are not getting adequate legal representation are studying the issue for possible new laws next year.

A legislative committee began hearing testimony Tuesday from experts who estimate between 50 and 75 percent of juveniles who are indigent don't get legal counsel in court before their cases are resolved.

Boulder Democratic Rep. Claire Levy, who is chairing the committee, says one of the challenges will be figuring out how to make sure there are enough attorneys who specialize in juvenile cases around the state.

National Juvenile Defender Center Executive Director Patricia Puritz told the committee that lack of representation is a problem nationwide. She says it has to do more with benign neglect than willful obstruction.

The committee will meet a handful of times before deciding on legislation.

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