DENVER — Since 2015, an average of 600 criminal cases have been filed every year in Colorado against children between 10 and 12 years old, said state Rep. Ryan Armagost. If he gets his way, that number will be zero.
"I don't think anyone would agree that putting handcuffs on a 12 year-old is what we want," said Armagost, a Republican who represents Larimer and Weld counties.
Armagost is co-sponsoring House Bill 23-1249, introduced Monday, that would prevent the prosecution of anyone under the age of 13. If the bill is approved, children 12 and younger who are arrested would be provided a wide range of services and support systems designed to prevent them from committing crimes again.
"I think everyone can agree that addressing this from a mental health issue [for] 12 years old and younger is more appropriate than dragging a kid through the court system," Armagost said.
Alexis King, the Jefferson County district attorney and president-elect of the Colorado District Attorneys' Council, said she opposes the bill.
"This bill is conceptually very appealing but, as it stands, it would take more away from the community safety tools that we have in the First Judicial District than it would add, and I think that's true not just in my jurisdiction but across Colorado," said King, who's a Democrat.
The state legislature discussed a similar bill last year but ultimately sent it to a task force for further study.
The House Judiciary Committee will consider the bill. Its first hearing has not yet been scheduled.
More 9NEWS stories on the Colorado legislature:
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