Wyoming Liberty Group

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Tom Rose lives in Dubois on the edge of the Wyoming Wilderness with his dogs and horses. As a retired juvenile delinquent, Tom brings a unique perspective to his work in juvenile justice. He has pursued and investigated juvenile justice issues for Wyoming Liberty Group and Republic Free Choice since 2012. As a juvenile delinquent emeritus (JDE), Tom is frequently able to get beyond mere academic policy discussions and focus on the real tangible impact the juvenile justice decisions have on the central stakeholders: the juveniles and their families. He is largely educated by the sister schools of real life and hard knocks and a lifetime of reading. As a youth, Tom was greatly influenced by a Wyoming Wilderness program for '€œchallenging'€ youngsters. He firmly believes that the disempowered and disenfranchised youth of our great state should reap the benefits of our unique Wyoming opportunities rather than being warehoused and criminalized for youthful indiscretions.

The Realities of Juvenile Justice in Wyoming

Of the 249 juveniles incarcerated in Wyoming in 2011 (the most recent year with data available), 42, or 16.9 percent, were jailed for offenses that are not considered criminal in any other state. Rather than being jailed for violent crimes, such as assault and battery or robbery, or property crimes, such as theft, these youths have been incarcerated for status offenses. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) defines a status offense as: a “non-delinquent/non-criminal offense; an offense that is illegal for underage persons, but not for adults”. Examples of these behaviors include underage drinking, curfew violations, and tobacco consumption.

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Does Race or Ethnicity Play a role in Juvenile Sentencing?

During a tour of the Laramie County Juvenile Services Center with Tim Thorson and Captain Michael Sorensen I observed some trends that were further supported by data provided by the JSC.

Through Mr. Thorson and Captain Sorensen I received a hard copy of the Overview of Laramie County Juvenile Services Center for fiscal year 20131 which provided the following details of operation:

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A Tour of the Laramie County Juvenile Services Center

Earlier this year, after being contacted by Tim Thorson, I toured the Juvenile Services Center in Laramie County. Mr. Thorson is a member of the Laramie County Community Juvenile Services Joint Powers Board, which oversees many aspects of the Juvenile Services Center. Upon our arrival, Mr. Thorson introduced me to Captain Michael Sorensen, who is in charge of the law enforcement aspects of the Center.

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Wyoming DFS Sticking it to Wyoming Families

The Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS) has proposed legislation to reform the current Child in Need of Supervision (CHINS) system to a Family in Need of Supervision (FINS) program. The underlying premise of FINS (sometimes called Families in Need of Services, Persons in Need of Services or PINS) as enacted in many other states including Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky and Massachusetts, is to keep struggling families out of formal involvement with the criminal justice system. This underlying premise is noticeably missing in the legislation proposed by DFS.

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Forty Years Later, Wyoming Still Prosecuting Juveniles

When a juvenile misbehaves in Wyoming, whether in school or at home, that juvenile has a very high probability of becoming embroiled in the justice system. Juveniles all over the country face the same potential consequences but a few things make Wyoming unique for potential juvenile delinquents.

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How Can We Create Successful Juvenile Diversion Programs in Wyoming?

Wyoming incarcerates more juveniles per capita than any other state in the country, with the exception of South Dakota. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) report entitled Youth residing in juvenile detention and correctional facilities, Wyoming currently ranks 49th with only South Dakota higher at 50th in juvenile incarcerations. These incarcerations do not address the underlying problems causing the juvenile’s behavior and can actually make the underlying problems worse. Creating successful diversion programs is one of the ways that we can transform Wyoming’s failed juvenile justice system.

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Wyoming Proposed Legislation 2014: changing CHINS to FINS and why passing this legislation would be a mistake

When a juvenile misbehaves in Wyoming, whether in school or at home, that juvenile has a very high probability of becoming embroiled in the justice system. Juveniles all over the country face the same potential consequences but a few things make Wyoming unique for potential juvenile delinquents.

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