Laramie, WY – A new report finds that states that are trying to comply with federal standards on juvenile detention face a number of obstacles. Those federal standards include keeping kids out of adult jails and not detaining kids who have committed underage crimes like using alcohol or tobacco. The report from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice finds it's especially difficult for rural states to meet these standards, because those states often have fewer alternatives to jail.
Wyoming has chosen not to comply with juvenile detention standards in part because of that challenge. But former state juvenile justice coordinator, Beth Evans, says rural states can create more alternatives to jail by adding to the federal money they receive for juvenile justice: "It's how you decide to use your money and how much you're willing to match some state resources to helping local governments develop these alternatives."
Evans says the federal government could also boost funding to help states adhere to its juvenile detention standards. She says that money has been cut in half over the last decade.