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Mon August 17, 2009
Legislative committee debates how to jail juveniles
By Addie Goss
Cheyenne, WY – A state legislative committee hosted a lively discussion today about whether Wyoming should comply with federal standards on jailing juveniles. Wyoming is the only state in the nation that does not comply with the standards. One reason is that Wyoming law allows counties to detain certain young offenders in adult jails. The federal standards require the youth to be held in a juvenile detention facility. Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric says his county has juveniles and adults in the same facility. Skoric says he's going to follow the example of Wyoming law, not the federal government.
"Sometimes kids need jail. And it's not that I need to see them in jail it's where the system indicates they are. I don't myself believe that judges are abusing the system. They're simply following Wyoming law."
Senator Kathryn Sessions countered that Skoric's approach isn't working. She says she wants to see the state's juvenile justice reforms go forward.
"I'm not going to sit here and let a rant at the federal government erase the amount of incredible work that the people of this state have done in support of our kids. I just won't do it."
The committee is also beginning debate on a bill that would create a statewide detention standard. The bill would have several statewide organizations map out when juveniles should be detained, how they should be detained, and how they should leave detention.