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Gov. Jared Polis suspends certain requirements for state facilities in effort to combat COVID-19

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Posted at 5:53 AM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 07:53:56-04

DENVER — Governor Polis has suspended certain regulatory statutes concerning juvenile justice, regional centers, and behavioral health facilities in an effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an executive order signed Saturday, the governor suspended the authority given to the juvenile parole board and temporarily waived requirements for mental health facilities regarding patient visitation and clothing policies.

The governor's executive order temporarily strips the juvenile parole board's power to grant, deny, or defer parole to juvenile offenders. However, the governor's actions do not affect the board's authority when it comes to aggravated juvenile offenders.

The order also suspends seclusion policies and the admission of new juveniles who may have COVID-19 into the state's detained population. The Colorado Department of Human Services would have to identify the criteria that would justify the acceptance of a juvenile into a detention facility during the crises, according to the executive action taken Saturday.

The order also affects mental health facilities, with the temporary suspension of certain rights given to patients admitted to these types of facilities.

Those suspensions include the right for a patient to wear their own clothing inside the center and the right for a patient "to have frequent and convenient opportunities to meet with visitors, including the ability to see his or her attorney, clergy, or physician at any time."

In the order, Polis writes that he encourages these facilities "to provide methods for individuals to interact electronically with visitors, attorneys, clergy, and physicians."

Polis said these measures will be in place until the end of the COVID-19 crisis and are designed to mitigate the spread of the virus in state facilities where it poses a risk to individuals and staff, as well as the communities to which those individuals will return.