January 31, 2023
Dear Honorable Members of the Colorado State Legislature,
Together Colorado is a nonpartisan, multi-racial, and multi-faith statewide organization working to place human dignity at the center of public life in Colorado. We are working towards a vision of a merciful, rehabilitative justice system that maintains the hope and human dignity of every person within it on all sides of the law.
We express our unequivocal support for HB 23-1042, Narrowing Admissibility Standards For Juvenile Statements. No matter their color, background, or where they live, every child deserves to grow up in a supportive environment that respects their humanity and upholds their dignity. This bill moves us toward that future by increasing funding for interrogation training for law enforcement, as well as improving the general reliability of confessions by requiring all juvenile interrogations to be recorded. Under the proposed language, if law enforcement is untruthful during custodial interrogation, the judge may discern whether the resulting confession was voluntary and therefore reliable and admissible in trial. Trust in our legal system and the community’s safety will improve if we know that information obtained during interrogations with youth is given voluntarily. We know that trust is essential to the legal system, community relations, and public safety; this legislation is a step toward building respect for and trust in our justice system.
Truth is a sacred value that unites many faith traditions. Confidence that law enforcement is seeking only voluntarily-given information from kids increases public trust, respect, and good role modeling by adults in power. By contrast, deception leads to false confessions and wrongful convictions that can have life-long consequences for our youth. We have seen the long-term effects of this including loss of education, opportunity, reputation, and life experiences – in addition to increased risk of future incarceration. As faith leaders throughout Colorado, we are concerned for the health and well-being of everyone involved in criminal proceedings and we support these additional regulations to build trust and keep our youth safe.
Children are the future of our communities. As clergy and faith leaders in your districts, we call on you to support HB 23-1042 because we all have a moral obligation to love, nurture, and protect our children from all harm. We envision a world where everyone in the criminal legal system can participate with integrity and trust in the process. Children who grow up in such a community have a better opportunity to become successful adults. By joining together across Colorado to support HB23-1042, we can make Colorado a place where youth are valued and have an opportunity to live whole and healthy lives, with no exceptions.
Thank you for your public service and leadership.
Signed by 115 Colorado Faith Leaders. To view the signers, see the PDF below.
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