Wyoming Tries To Reform Juvenile Courts

Cheyenne, Wy – State lawmakers in Cheyenne today
(Thursday) opened up what likely will be a year and a half of
committee discussion about reforming Wyoming's haphazard juvenile
justice system.
Attorney General Pat Crank urged the Joint Judiciary Interim
Committee to change Wyoming's juvenile justice system. But Crank
says he does NOT want the state to impose a one-size-fits-all
juvenile justice system on local courts and communities.
Crank holds up Judge Ronn Jeffrey's juvenile municipal court in
Cheyenne as an example of what can be done. Jeffrey's court might
well be the best-funded and most comprehensive court of its kind in
the state, providing youngsters with access to mentoring programs
and other services.
That's different from the way that most juveniles are treated by
Wyoming's courts.
Research shows that a large majority of Wyoming juveniles who
are charged with minor offenses never appear in juvenile court.
Instead, they usually appear in municipal and circuit courts. They
are treated like adults in those courts, and seldom get access to
programs that could help them.
The state's juvenile courts are reserved for youngsters who are
charged with serious crimes.
The Joint Judiciary Interim Committee is planning to prepare
most of its juvenile justice reform legislation for introduction in
2009.