( 271 ratings )

Innovation to Improve the Criminal Justice System in Denver

the City of Denver | June 30, 2014

This summary is a part of Denver’s application to the City Accelerator, through which cities would receive support for urban innovations that will have a significant impact in the lives of their especially low-income residents.  Watch the city’s pitch video, read the summary, and rate their submission on its potential to: impact low-income people; expand innovation by the city; and, scale to other cities.

What is Denver proposing?

The City of Denver seeks innovative solutions to keep homeless youth out of the criminal justice system and better serve those already in the system. The city’s work over the past three years to build a culture of innovation in city government has prepared Denver to take on challenges that might have otherwise been avoided, such as improving the well-being of homeless youth. The City Accelerator would give Denver the necessary support to fully tackle this issue.

How will it accomplish this?

As part of the first cohort in the City Accelerator, Denver would:

  • expand its efforts to embed a culture of innovation into city government, using its focus on the criminal justice system as a learning case;
  • improve management of  youth in the criminal justice system, freeing up resources to better serve at-risk young people; and
  • target efforts to serve homeless youth to keep them out of the criminal justice system.


( 271 ratings )


Michelle    on: Aug 1    

Great idea.

Peter    on: Jul 31    

Very good idea! I'm behind this cause

Ryan Poole    on: Jul 31    

Love this place! They are headed in the right direction.

Dave    on: Jul 31    

Great idea! Badly needed.

Keren    on: Jul 31    

Love it! Let's make this happen!

Eddie G.    on: Jul 31    

This is fantastic. Let's please make this a reality.

Julie    on: Jul 31    

Denver truly is creating a world class city where everyone matters.

CJ    on: Jul 30    

This is such important work Denver is doing! Keeping people out of jail (those who don't belong there) is just critical. It helps those individuals and their families, plus taxpayers and all of society. It's also so crucial to look to the future and do preventative programs to keep the next generation safe. Good for Denver!!

Morie    on: Jul 30    

Thought the video was well-done. It demonstrates Denver's commitment to lowering recidivism rates and makes a strong business case. Proud of our community.

Greg T    on: Jul 30    

A world class city where everyone matters! Denver is working hard to provide everyone an amazing place to live, and a blueprint on how to achieve the same results. Innovation is key!

Kevin    on: Jul 29    

Love it! Let's give people what they need!

Suzanne    on: Jul 29    

I'm impressed the with initiatives already in place (services and efficiencies) that put the 'right' people behind bars and provide assistance to those not a danger to themselves or others. Looking the past for how things were done, the present to introduce changes and the future for prevention sound like a recipe for success. Inviting the private sector to partner through bonds leaves the control with the City.

Raelynn Napper    on: Jul 25    

Denver rocks!

Sandy Pooler    on: Jul 22    

Denver is using innovative approaches to reduce crime. Its programs to deliver services to chronically homeless, drug and alcohol dependent, and mentally ill people is a superior way to spend tax dollars instead of using those funds to incarcerate people. All in all a great idea. The only downside is whether this is replicable to any but the largest cities in the country.

Emily Sumner    on: Jul 22    

This is a great, multi-disciplinary approach to not only reduce crime, but also increase benefits to those in the community. I like that stretches from education for youth, to services for those who are chronically homeless, and others involved in the justice system.

Lizzie Schoon    on: Jul 22    

We really need more outreach for the homeless...

Kris    on: Jul 17    

I like the potential to reduce stress on families, get them help and reinvest in programs to prevent crime.

Sandy    on: Jul 15    

I liked the idea of identifying and supporting homeless children, however, I do not think that focusing on the criminal justice system would provide the level of support necessary to help low income people improve their SES.

M. Peterson    on: Jul 15    

Great to see a city proposing to treat social morbidity issues as mental health, child safety, family fostering, and education problems/opportunities rather than "gateways to crime" issues. Helping under-educated, socially stressed, economically poor populations make good decisions and avoid self-destructive behaviors is expensive humanitarian work. This plan should be supported.

Margaret Hunt    on: Jul 15    

Nicely done

Mike B    on: Jul 14    

I felt that this was both the best presentation and the project most suitable for further funding.

   on: Jul 14    

Sounds like Denver is appropriately re-prioritizing its resources to keep kids and low-level offenders out of jail, and find better ways to get services to those who need them most.

   on: Jul 14    

would like more info 1st time offender forgiveness program for minor crimes with intense program involvement would be great for minors so that it would not go on their records and prevent future employment keep up the good work, as a visitor to Denver, I was amazed and the number of homeless

   on: Jul 14    

Good use of analytics to address a problem, it will be interesting to see if they can bring this approach to other areas of city government.

Kelly Leid    on: Jul 13    

Proposal represents a sustainable strategy by proactively engaging youth early in the process.

   on: Jul 13    

This proposal presents a great range of interested and involved groups.

Charlie Wright    on: Jul 11    

Outstanding program from the sound of it

Missy    on: Jul 11    

Wonderful approach, creative, efficient, and effective. Well thought approach to a challenging and multi-layered problem.

Susan Deichsel    on: Jul 11    

Very good video

Erica Zadakis    on: Jul 10    

Excellent idea. We need more programs like this that enable offenders to continue working at their jobs, living in their homes, maintaining medicaid/social security/disability eligibility, and getting supervision, instead of pulling people from potentially supportive environments.

Tammy    on: Jul 10    

It is so important to reach these at-risk youth before they become trapped in the criminal justice system due to issues that if addressed early enough can change their lives and have a great impact on our society in a positive way. Great proposal, City of Denver!

Becky    on: Jul 9    

A frequent visitor to Denver, and familiar with the local government. Denver has the capability to make an impact on whatever they set their sights on! Vote for them.

Glenn Tapia    on: Jul 9    

The City and County of Denver has many innovators and transformational visionaries in leadership positions throughout their local criminal and juvenile justice system. My experience has been that the leadership there embraces social and behavioral science technology and works to implement effective and research-driven programs. Other local governments, including cities, can learn from their adaptive and progressive culture as well as their specific programs and practices used for at-risk, low-risk, and high-risk populations.

Susan    on: Jul 9    

This is a great program

Connor    on: Jul 9    

Denver is helping low-income individuals and families by improving efficiency, reducing costs, and providing support to those that need it most. The City will surely serve as a model to others around the Nation in years to come.

Bryan    on: Jul 9    

I appreciate the fact that Denver is really working to be innovative to impact the city.

Theresa    on: Jul 8    

Denver has taken tremendous strides to improve how safety and justice agencies interact and provide service connectivity and continuity... this is simply the next great step! Way to go Denver!

Robbie Goldman    on: Jul 8    

Denver is trying to see all of its residents some past decisions have seen some as less desirable. This pitch seems to move past that and see all as valuable.

Chris Conner    on: Jul 8    

As a former night-shift street outreach worker to homeless youth in Denver I know this is the direction needed and these are the capable people with whom to entrust this challenge. The city of Denver has made a deft, sensible argument based on real data to avoid public expense by learning to increase our standard of care for youth in homelessness, ensuring that our highest aspirations as a compassionate and smart city are realized. We are not starting from scratch but extending a wellspring of knowledge, talent, an preparation that can forge better outcomes through better system uses.

Sarah Moss    on: Jul 8    

The City and County of Denver is an innovative and strategic place to work, full of people focused on customer service, efficiency and solutions.

Julie Collins    on: Jul 8    

Great way to not only impact low-income people now, but to better the lives of children in the future. When the results of this effort are produced, this will encourage Denver to keep innovating and build even more momentum as a model for other cities. Way to go Denver!

Kelli Narde    on: Jul 8    

Well done.

Jerraud Coleman    on: Jul 8    

I love that Denver is investing in its citizens and employees, and I love that Denver is willing to share these innovations with the rest of the nation, in order to create a world class nation where everybody matters.

Dolores Andrade-Mejias    on: Jul 8    

This is what government is supposed to do for the citizens! Work on making lives better, not just punish a citizen for many times a mistake.

Ali D.    on: Jul 8    

I believe this will have a HUGE impact in Denver and especially low-income families and kids!

Lorraine Muller    on: Jul 7    

wow... forward thinking leaders, and administrators... it's refreshing given the current political climate... this is a wonderful project and deserves to be funded so that other cities can see the benefits of turning away from for-profit jails, and ignoring the preventive and inexpensive medical care that ends up costing tax payers a whole heap of money!!

Jamie    on: Jul 7    

This is groundbreaking work and clearly seeks to unify the vision of providing a safe city, a prosperous city and a effectively run city. Bravo!

Jeannette    on: Jul 7    

Very excited about the new innovations.

Jen    on: Jul 7    

I have spoken with many of the Denver leadership group, and know they would be excellent stewards of the guidance provided by City Accelerator. Denver has innovative leadership and culturally is willing to try new things. We have a significant number of children living in poverty, and a very large number of non-profits that attest to the passion we have for those less fortunate. The best way to bridge the private sector and government is to have City Accelerator work with the City. I think we would make the most of this opportunity, and truly hope that Denver is part of the cohort!

Jackson    on: Jul 7    

An opportunity for real impact from a team that can actually get it done.

Cordelia Randall    on: Jul 7    

I am proud to read an article where a major city is saving the next generation from years of incarceration and waste. We have no young lives to loose. I applaud you Denver for your innovation and care for your city.

Stacey Hervey    on: Jul 7    

The City of Denver and Crime Prevention and Control Commission are on the leading edge in reducing crime and providing resources for those most at risk of offending. As a teacher and member of CPCC, I advocate for this innovative concept to work with urban youth who are at risk.

Susan Hahn    on: Jul 7    

Denver has concrete plans that make sense to achieve the goals of this program. I thought the video was well done and the points well made.

Sarah    on: Jul 7    

Excited to be in such an innovative city.

MJM    on: Jul 7    

The very best part of this program is working with the student population. They hold the future. Long term results will measure the success of the program but not over night.

RMG    on: Jul 7    

Denver is an innovator for services and access for low income persons and youth at risk. With the additional resources available through City Accelerator Denver would make even more impact.

Sarah Hidey    on: Jul 7    

Excellent pitch -- I would love to see this innovation in Denver!

Susan Barber    on: Jul 7    

The City of Denver has always been a city with leaders ready to try innovative solutions to issues of broad societal impact. The opportunity to participate in the Living Cities initiative would most definitely accelerate progress in making our criminal justice run effectively !!! and in a cost efficient manner. I think back many, many years when we (the City of Denver) were one of the first cities---if not the first city---to provide a "drug court." Because of tenacious and dedicated leaders, that drug court concept has been replicated in numerous U.S. cities. Denver is a good--no--it's a great city to invest in!

Matt H    on: Jul 7    

What a great idea!

Mary Crosswright    on: Jul 7    

I am so excited to have seen first-hand a lot of the innovative progress that Denver has seen in the last few years. I am equally excited to see Denver expand its efforts to serve some of our most vulnerable citizens; the homeless and at-risk youth. The opportunity to expand our ideas to other cities in the county and across the world would be invaluable.

DJ    on: Jul 7    

I am looking forward to the implementation of this awesome project!

Bill Mitchell    on: Jul 7    

Excellent ideas that offer the opportunity to positively impact those who are in great need.

Nikki Holmlund    on: Jul 7    

Amazing idea, Denver is fostering innovation at every level and this is really exciting to see.

Rebecca C    on: Jul 7    

Keeping at-risk kids out of the criminal justice system is a GREAT idea!

Susan Barber    on: Jul 7    

Denver is a city of innovative leaders...innovative leaders who look for and try solutions for problems of significant societal impact. It is critical that we find effective programs for our criminal justice system and ones that allow for efficient use of resources. This proposal does both and Denver has the leaders that can implement--they have a successful record in making improvements!

Janine Vanderburg    on: Jul 7    

Denver's tiered approach of focusing on the starting point (with children) through the end game is innovative, and has high potential for significant costs savings, creating opportunities for our city to continue to grow and thrive. As a Denver resident for over 30 years, I applaud the efforts of this administration to drive innovation deeply throughout the city, and to break down the silos that often occur n government. And simply excited for what this means for kids in Denver!

Kitty Lohrum    on: Jul 7    

It's nice to see an innovative approach to decreasing the jail population. Lower cost, more effective services are the only way to go forward. This is scalable for other cities.

Neil Maxfield    on: Jul 7    

Way to deliver on the credo of "A great City where everyone matters"!

Sam    on: Jul 7    

One section to look at are the programs which have been eliminated from high schools, wood shop, auto shop or the metal shop from high schools. We are trying to put too many people who are not interested in college as a round peg into a square hole. We need to development programs which train these young people in the skills which can be applied today's industry and business world. There are numerous manufacturers who are having a very difficulty time in finding skilled applicants for their companies. Example, a machinist who worked 20 years ago for a companies, now has changed to a more technical application in both understanding and running the equipment. We need programs that cover a broad range to divert young people and give them a feeling a self worth with that skill.

Pablo    on: Jul 3    

These are some the most vulnerable folks in society -- some or all of the following traits: mentally ill, impoverished, and substance abusers. Nice to see Denver peeling back the onion to try and tackle the root cause. I wonder what percentages of the front-end users are originally from Denver.

Tomas    on: Jul 3    

Excited to see Denver taking on such an important issue. City governments touch -- and in some cases shape -- the lives of low-income people in so many important ways, and the ability to innovate around that work is vital to giving people a fair shake at a better life. Kudos!