By Addie Goss
Laramie, WY – Wyoming lawmakers will consider juvenile justice legislation on Thursday. A recent Kids Count study found this state has the nation's second highest rate of sending children to jail. Retired Judge Gary Hartman was appointed last spring to help the state address ongoing problems with juvenile justice. He says one issue is the attitude among some Wyoming judges and attorneys that jail can be good for kids: "There's still a thinking that kids need to go to jail to be taught a lesson. There is no empirical data that I'm aware of that says that being in jail for any time for a child is good."
In fact, Hartman says kids in adult jails can be victimized or sexually abused. He says Wyoming is the only state in the nation that does not comply with certain federal guidelines for juveniles. Some juvenile offenders here are still placed in adult jails, and some facilities that house both juveniles and adults do not adequately separate the two groups. Hartman says he hopes Thursday's meeting will draw attention to these ongoing issues.