Wyoming Liberty Group
My Buddy JJ, his nickname after his inherited brand, would be described by all who know him as the quintessential Western Man, capable, tough, reliable, solid, an excellent Hunter and Horseman, a man of his word, a good neighbor, a Top Hand. His face lights up when he speaks of time spent, or to be spent with his daughter. In the manner of many solitary men, he considers problems, and issues for miles of distance on horse back or while driving a truck. When he states a viewpoint it is always well thought out, he has explored it from many angles. One afternoon as we discussed politics as he and I do, our heads tilted into a mild late January Wyoming breeze, his comment on grumbling people and the lack of voter participation was the above quote.
On August 13, 2015 the Casper Star Tribune ran a story entitled Natrona County students organize around ditching the dress code.
This is the introduction to a 2015 series on juvenile rights starting with one that happens to be in the news and that appears to be lawful protest through civil disobedience. Here is the story in brief.
I discussed a variety of juvenile justice topics with Glenn Woods at the KYDT radio station in Gillette. The station staff was wonderfully friendly, professional and accommodating. Glenn Woods let my Airedale, Lucy right in the broadcast room. I love Wyoming. The interview aired on the same day on KYDT, KVOC, KOYA (SD), KBFS (SD), KPOK (ND). The Bold Republic is also syndicated.
During my research into non-judicial approaches to promoting good juvenile behavior, I discovered a tool which is currently very popular nationwide. Is this an appropriate tool in Wyoming? The findings are mixed and I’ll share what I found on both sides of the issue.
As we have been exploring together in recent weeks, the proposed decriminalization of status offenses in Wyoming will be positive change for our juvenile justice system. This needed change will also leave several problem behaviors in justice limbo.
From truancy to tobacco and alcohol consumption the status offense behaviors are dangerous and destructive to our youth, their families and our communities. Our challenge as a community is to come up with non-criminal alternatives which effectively deter the behavior. This way we can encourage our legislators to continue the decriminalization of status offenses secure in the knowledge that there are more appropriate deterrents in place.
Last week I wrote about some trends in truancy laws and how truancy fits into the status offense decriminalization issues for Wyoming. Although most legislators with whom I speak about status crimes and other juvenile justice issues are well informed, I still run into people who are unaware that Wyoming regularly jails status offenders or really what status offenses are. In short form, status offenses are actions that would not be considered criminal if done by an adult. Truancy is a relatively easy one to understand since adults do not have anyone requiring them to attend school.
In a recent Law Commentary article out of Texas, Research Associate Jason Snead of the Heritage Foundation highlights an anticipated change in Texas’ truancy laws. According to the article, Texas has prosecuted over 100,000 juveniles for Class C misdemeanors merely for truancy. Although my own research completely contradicts Mr. Snead’s contention that Texas was one of only two states prosecuting children for truancy, his article accurately highlights some of the ludicrous contradictions that we see in juvenile justice issues all the time.