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Juvenile offenses often tied to property, alcohol

May 4, 2017 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Fremont County's juvenile services program gets 75 percent of its case activity in Riverton.

Fremont County's juvenile justice program recorded almost 330 citations for youth offenses in 2016.

Susan Shipley and Melinda Cox reported the numbers to the Riverton City Council.

The city provides funding to the juvenile services program, which receives 75 percent of its work from Riverton.

Fortunately, the group has "very good working relationship" with the Riverton Police Department, Cox said.

"They've gone above and beyond, in my opinion, to make sure that they continue to treat juveniles the way that we need them to and receive the services that they need," Cox said.

In 2016, her group received 214 referrals from RPD, plus 34 from the Fremont County Sheriff's Office in Riverton, 77 from the Lander Police Department and four from the FCSO in Lander.

Offenses

The most common juvenile citations in Fremont County involve property and alcohol; each type made up 30 percent of the total for 2016.

Almost 17 percent of the citations were drug related, while about 9 percent involved another person, 9 percent were a result of public orders, 3 percent were traffic related and 1.8 percent involved statutes.

"We've seen a couple of trends here lately," Cox said.

It has been a struggle for them to work with juveniles in the last few years after the closing of the juvenile detention center in 2012, she said. As a result of that closure, the juvenile services run a day reporting center in Riverton with a maximum capacity of 12 juveniles.

Cox said Fremont County School District 25 offered the space to run that program and provide a teacher to supervise the youth.

Youth that arrive at the center would normally be expelled outside the school and are in trouble with the justice system in some type of way, Cox said.

"We're trying to close the gap so that these kids who were in trouble in school aren't just sitting at home, aren't doing anything, creating more problems for our communities," she added.

Out of all the cases handled in 2016, more than 18 percent became pre-court diversion contracts, about 23 percent were transferred to juvenile court, about 30 percent had a delayed sentencing bond, about 5 percent were transferred to adult supervision, 3.6 percent were dismissed or declined, about 2 percent involved a bond forfeit, 3 percent were for failure to appear warrants, 2.7 percent entered a not guilty plea and almost 12 percent are in pending status.

Staff work

Cox, who has been working for juvenile justice services in Fremont County for almost 18 years, also introduced to the council her staff, which provides extensive experience in the field.

"We have a lot of dedicated staff that have been here," Cox said. "We haven't had a lot of turnover, specifically in Riverton."

Staff members are always willing to receive training to improve their work and have started to offer services in Riverton that weren't always provided in the past, Cox added. They go "above and beyond" by providing services like restorative justice conferences to schools and community organizations at no cost, she said. Staff recently led an anger control group at the Wind River Job Corps.

"That's partnering with other agencies here in the community to enhance services that we all provide," Cox said.

The Single Point of Entry Committee is another positive service Cox mentioned. It's a committee facilitated by juvenile justice services which helps determine the juvenile's journey through the legal system and overall well-being.

In 2016, the juvenile services office recorded 83 clients who received the Positive Achievement Change Tool assessment while 43 clients received substance abuse evaluations, 17 clients received anger management services, 14 clients received moral reconation therapy, 17 clients received mental health evaluation referrals, two clients were part of the driving while under the influence victim impact panel, 12 clients took a shoplifting class, nine clients received restorative justice training, and eight clients took Changing Lives Through Literature courses.

Cox said she was "incredibly proud" of her group's intake process, which is set to help juveniles follow through with available services, be successful and not be repeated offenders.

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From left, juvenile probation officer with the Fremont County juvenile justice program Sean Robertson, director Melinda Cox and juvenile probation officer Hattie Calvert provide services for juveniles in the county. Not pictured: juvenile probation officer Michele Photo by Alejandra Silva

From left, juvenile probation officer with the Fremont County juvenile justice program Sean Robertson, director Melinda Cox and juvenile probation officer Hattie Calvert provide services for juveniles in the county. Not pictured: juvenile probation officer Michele Photo by Alejandra Silva


From left, juvenile probation officer with the Fremont County juvenile justice program Sean Robertson, director Melinda Cox and juvenile probation officer Hattie Calvert provide services for juveniles in the county. Not pictured: juvenile probation officer Michele Photo by Alejandra Silva

From left, juvenile probation officer with the Fremont County juvenile justice program Sean Robertson, director Melinda Cox and juvenile probation officer Hattie Calvert provide services for juveniles in the county. Not pictured: juvenile probation officer Michele Photo by Alejandra Silva

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