NCYL has called on Wyoming to stop prosecuting children in adult courts for minor offenses.
Casper Star-Tribune, April 19, 2011
Gov. Matt Mead’s administration is lobbying Wyoming lawmakers to support creation of a unified juvenile court system in the state.
Between 85 and 90 percent of children in trouble with the law in Wyoming are prosecuted in adult criminal courts, where they receive few social services like drug treatment typically offered to juvenile offenders and where convictions can wind up on defendants’ permanent records.
NCYL has joined other advocates in calling on Wyoming to stop prosecuting juveniles in adult court, sometimes for minor offenses like skateboarding on the sidewalk. Juveniles are also commonly prosecuted as adults for offenses that would not be illegal if committed by an adult, such as possession of alcohol. Adult court hearings are open to the public, so confidential information about children is sometimes discussed in open court, and juveniles frequently appear without legal representation.
In a report released June 1, 2010, NCYL and the ACLU criticized Wyoming’s policy of allowing each of the state’s 23 county prosecutors to develop criteria for deciding which juveniles to try in adult court, leading to varying practices throughout the state. A review of case files and hearings in six Wyoming counties shows that juveniles frequently plead guilty to charges without being told what the consequences are of doing so – and sometimes wind up in jail because of their pleas.
NCYL is working with Wyoming to improve its juvenile justice system. In response to a request by Gov. Matt Mead, the Joint Judiciary Committee of the Wyoming Legislature will conduct an interim review of problems with the juvenile justice system identified in NCYL and ACLU's report, and will examine proposed solutions supported by NCYL in collaboration with local partners, including wholesale revisions to the Wyoming Code.
Updated April 19, 2011
ACLU of Wyoming National Chapter
April 6, 2011
NCYL and ACLU of Wyoming National Chapter
June 1, 2010
Unless otherwise noted, all photographs that appear here were produced independently of and bear no relationship to cases or incidents discussed herein.