Blog | October 16, 2019

The Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Colorado

High-quality programs can help prevent crime during afterschool hours and throughout the day

The more than 5,000 law enforcement leaders around the nation who are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, have long known that the hours immediately after school lets out, when parents are likely not available to supervise, are the prime-time for juvenile crime. Over the past 20 years, law enforcement leaders across the country have relied on high-quality afterschool programs to provide supportive, stable, and enriching environments with caring adults that keep children and youth out of trouble and safe, while supporting their academic success, and social and emotional development.

The Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Colorado

2 to 6pm: Still the Prime Time for Juvenile Crime in Colorado

In Colorado, juvenile crime peaks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with 32 percent of school-day incidences recorded at that time. About 26 percent of all juvenile crime on school days falls during the hours following the last school bell from 2 to 6 p.m.

The crime peaks not occurring from 2 to 6 p.m. are largely due to much of law enforcement in those states recording youth criminal activity as having all occurred at only one hour during the day, often noon or midnight. This would artificially inflate the crime rate for that time period.

Program Highlight: Evolution Youth Services, Denver

Dave Stokes had been working in the mental health field when he developed the idea for Evolution Youth Services. At the time, he was working with adults in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and noticed young people with a lot of potential for change and development, but very little outlet for their anger and aggression; he recognized Jiu Jitsu as a channel for building that connection with youth and helping them cope with their emotions. Stokes worked for two years to build relationships with the Colorado Department of Human Services, Denver County probation and Diversion offices, and in 2016, Evolution Youth Services opened as a program for juvenile justice-involved youth to receive trauma-informed intervention through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Program participants are referred, either by the probation office, Department of Human Services, or the Juvenile Services Unit, or Northwest Denver police officers. For two to three nights a week, youth attend classes that seamlessly blend therapy and physical activity together in a way that makes the services more approachable for youth.

participant of Evolution Youth Services afterschool program in Denver, Colorado
Photo by Evolution Youth Services

Each class begins with a check-in, where youth explore the different emotions in their lives; the class then warms up and instruction begins. Jiu Jitsu is a grappling-based martial arts form, and can often put participants in uncomfortable positions, both physically and emotionally. Stokes and his instructors take this time to teach the youth how to understand the emotions they are experiencing and how to deal with those emotions in real time. Through mindfulness and honest conversations, youth develop the social and emotional skills they need to navigate the world. As one prevention social worker reflects, “This program not only plays a tremendous role in helping youth recover from trauma to reclaim power and confidence in their lives, it also helps to instill discipline and self-regulation for youth that have been labeled ‘unreachable’ and ‘out of control.’” While the main programming for juvenile justice-involved youth is housed in their gym, Evolution Youth Services also provides a school-based afterschool program for kids attending Denver Public Schools, which has similar impacts on youths’ behavior and demeanor. The program is able to help disengaged youth make smart choices. Founder Dave Stokes remarks, “Once you learn you can fight, you don’t have to prove that to anyone,” and Evolution Youth Services empowers kids with that knowledge and self-control which helps them successfully navigate the pressures they may be facing in their lives.


  1. Colorado*