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Judge, police creating boot camp for Pueblo's troubled kids - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Judge, police creating boot camp for Pueblo's troubled kids

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PUEBLO -

It's been in the works for over a year, and now, the Pueblo Municipal Court is preparing to launch a new program designed to keep troubled kids out of the criminal justice system.

Presiding Judge Carla Sikes told News 5 a member of her staff saw a summer camp spur positive change in California. Now, they're bringing a version of it to Pueblo.

"Our main goal with this program is to get them more engaged in school and more engaged in the community, so that they have some investment," Sikes said.

On the bench, Sikes has seen three types of juvenile cases through the municipal court. On one side of the scale, kids that have realized their mistake.

"We have some kids come in and they're first-time offenders," Sikes said. "And the court system itself is enough to deter them, and we'll never see them again."

And on the other side of the scale, she's seen kids facing a handful of open cases.

"They reach a point where they're not complying, and they have cases in county and district court. So, they're really beyond the resources of municipal court," she said.

But in the middle, Sikes has found a group of kids that could go either way. That's why she's launching a summer boot camp aimed at getting them out of the criminal justice system.

The camp will include instruction in areas like communication, health and wellness, and discipline. There's also a physical component that starts every day, with help from the Pueblo Police Department.

"It's going to be about building up their self-confidence, building up their self-discipline, and just building them up and giving them good life skills," said Captain Kenny Rider.

The pilot class will have 10 students. They're all between 12 and 15 years old, and each face at least two or more open cases.

Sikes said the camp will last for several weeks through June and July, and if the kids remain committed, there's a reward waiting for them.

"Obviously, a benefit to them and the families is that if they participate, then the cases that are pending will be dismissed," Sikes said. "And all of the fines and everything else that goes along with that will go away as well."

The municipal court will also monitor the progress made by each kid involved in camp the following school year.

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