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Kids Count notes 'Y-JAM' with new online resource

Oct 10, 2012 - From staff reports

Wyoming Kids Count is commemorating National Youth Justice Awareness Month (Y-JAM) with the launch of an interactive timeline on its website. This dynamic resource is available to state leaders, policymakers, students, advocates, academicians, journalists, and the general public.

Wyoming Kids Count joins volunteers and organizations, throughout the month of October in 20 states in producing over 25 events that will draw awareness to the issue of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth in the adult criminal justice system.

Wyoming Kids Count is publicizing the Interactive Timeline throughout October and will continuously maintain and update it as the debate continues in Wyoming and events unfold. Wyoming Kids Count has produced several new short juvenile justice videos that are linked to the timeline, in addition to reports, journal articles, news stories, editorials, and legislative developments.

Link to WyKidsCount Interactive Juvenile Justice Timeline: http://kidscount.

wykids.org/wyoming-juvenile-justice.html

Link to the videos at WyKids-TV: http://www.youtube.

com/user/WyKidsCount?feature=mhee

"We are excited to take part in the national movement to draw awareness to the issues that youth and their families face while in the adult justice system," said Marc Homer, Kids Count Director at the Wyoming Children's Action Alliance. "Reviewing the interactive timeline, a record encompassing more than forty years in Wyoming juvenile justice history, it is striking to see two distinctive yet contradictory trends that have emerged. While there is a consistent record of highly reputable reports highlighting the need for evidenced based reform, paradoxically there is also a long history of elected officials who have rejected recommendations to implement the most critical reforms.

These research-based reforms have shown to produce better outcomes for children, improve cost effectiveness, and improve public safety. Currently in Wyoming, 85-90 percent of juvenile offenders are processed in adult courts, Wyoming continues to vie with South Dakota for having the highest rate of detained youth in the nation, and Wyoming is the only state that does not voluntarily participate in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act of 1974. Wyoming leaders have been reluctant to make a relatively small investment in a comprehensive juvenile justice data system that would allow for an evaluation of the state's ever-increasing cost burden for dealing with delinquent and troubled youth."

"A recent positive footnote in the history of juvenile justice in Wyoming has been the development of some very successful community-based restorative justice programs in a handful of Wyoming counties," Homer said. "With reports of programmatic success continuing to emerge, we may be approaching a tipping point in Wyoming that could lead to long anticipated, sweeping reform. Wyoming Kids Count remains optimistic, and encourages people to look at the resources linked to the timeline, and get the facts."

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