Wyoming Liberty Group
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.
Earlier this week the Legislative Service Office released two draft bills written at the request of the Joint Judiciary Committee of the Wyoming Legislature. Each bill would amend civil asset forfeiture under the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act (“WCSA”) in distinct ways. The committee will consider both bills at its meeting in Gillette next week. Civil asset forfeiture is a process by which police seize property—in Wyoming, usually cash, cars and firearms—that they suspect is related to the drug trade. The property owner must then go to civil court and prove that the property is legitimate, or else the state keeps it. Such laws have faced bipartisan criticism nationwide over the last few years, and here in Wyoming the saga continues. (Our civil forfeiture tag links to much of our work on the issue.)
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.
MADISON, WI — Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its ruling in “The John Doe Cases,” an appeal consolidating numerous cases relating to a secret investigation of numerous political groups and citizens in the state. In its ruling, the court accepted a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Wyoming Liberty Group and agreed with the brief’s argument that the Wisconsin law in question is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.
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.