A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation suggests that Wyoming is in dire need of juvenile justice reforms as the state has the highest rate of juvenile incarceration.
The report compiles decades of research, along with new data, that shows putting kids behind bars doesn’t keep them from committing crimes later. Wyoming Kids Count director Marc Homer.
The report also shows that incarceration doesn't provide public safety benefits, wastes taxpayer money and exposes young people to violence and abuse. And in almost every case, the “crimes” committed are minor.
Homer says Wyoming is spending $66-million a year to incarcerate kids. Compare that to Vermont - a state with a similar population, which spends $3 million a year and keeps most kids out of jail.
Bart Lubow with the Casey Foundation says since the research shows locking kids up hasn’t paid off, it’s time for Wyoming and other states to adopt policies to slow the sentencing stream, and to invest in alternatives that focus on treatment and supervision.
Lubow said that for the few dangerous teens, large institutions should be replaced with small, treatment-oriented facilities. The report makes six recommendations to help states improve juvenile justice systems.