Wyoming’s youth incarceration rates higher than national average

Dec 20, 2013

Wyoming continues to incarcerate youth at a rate much higher than the national average.  That’s according to a new study by the National Juvenile Justice Network. 

Since 2011, the number of kids held in detention centers has dropped dramatically across the nation. But not in Wyoming. New research shows Wyoming's youth confinement rate was 2.2 times the national average during that period.

Wyoming Children’s Law Center Director Donna Sheen says the state is still recovering from the zero tolerance policies of the past. “There can be some harmful effects to interrupting an adolescent’s development,” Sheen says.  “By removing them from the home and community they’re far more likely to become long term offenders or to recidivate.”

She says a proposed juvenile justice data collection program supported by Governor Mead could bring Wyoming in line with the national average by showing policy makers which youth intervention programs work, and which don’t.