Friday, April 5, 2013

Don't Do The Crime If You Can't Do The Time

Jordon Steffen’s March 2013 article in The Denver Post began with this sentence:

“The number of juveniles committed to the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections has dropped by 44 percent in seven years, the result of programs that have put more focus on rehabilitation than detention.”

Joshua Wolfson’s February 26 Casper Star Tribune article, “Wyoming locks away fewer juveniles, but still lags behind rest of nation,” states that even though Wyoming is jailing fewer children that it has in the past, Wyoming still detains more youth than any other state in the nation but South Dakota. While the rest of the nation has seen a steep decline in the rate of juvenile detention Wyoming has a youth detainment rate nearly twice the national average.

Not only is Colorado’s youth detention rate down; their juvenile justice system numbers are down in other areas:
• 28% decline in juvenile arrests
• 1,160 fewer juvenile court cases in the past year
• 13% decline in youth recidivism rates in 2012

Colorado’s elected officials made a unified and concentrated effort towards reforming their juvenile justice system and worked to bring Colorado to the forefront of the nationwide movement to provide youth with a system that is effective in guiding children to successful and productive lives.

The Colorado system uses a number of best practices techniques including:
• early intervention
• mentors
• mental health and substance abuse rehabilitation
• individual treatment plans for each juvenile

Youth corrections savings can now be moved into child welfare programs in order to provide services for at risk children as young as 5.

In order to achieve what Colorado and other states are accomplishing, a state must have not only a unified juvenile justice system, but elected officials that are engaged and knowledgeable about reform. Wyoming has neither.