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Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform | WY

Wyoming: 2013 | 2010 | Resources



  • Adjudication and Sentencing — Wyoming Bans Mandatory Life without Parole for Youth Under 18: Following Miller v. Alabama and a state Supreme Court case (Bear Cloud v. State, 294 P.3d 36 (2013)), Wyoming eliminated mandatory life without parole sentences for crimes committed by youth under age 18. Youth may still be sentenced to life without parole for certain crimes, but must become eligible for parole once they have served at least 25 years, or if their sentence is commuted to a term of years. H.B. 23/Act No. 18, signed into law February 14, 2013; effective July 1, 2013.
  • Youth in the Adult System — Wyoming Requires Law Enforcement to Notify Parents When Issuing Citations to Youth: Wyoming state law now requires law enforcement to attempt to notify parents and guardians of youth who are issued citations for a violation of state or federal law or municipal ordinances. The law is an attempt to address the problem of many youth being issued citations and sent to adult court—the default court for most misdemeanors and violations in Wyoming—without their parents or guardians ever receiving notice. H.B. 175, signed into law March 7, 2013; effective July 1, 2013.

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  • Conditions of Confinement — State Develops Juvenile Detention Facility Standards: Wyoming law now requires sheriffs to develop and implement uniform standards for juvenile detention facilities, with consideration of nationally-recognized criteria. Starting in March 2013, youth may not be detained in a secure juvenile detention facility unless the facility has adopted the standards. The sheriffs must report to the legislature on the development and implementation of the standards by November 15, 2012. S.F.O. 9/Ch. 21, signed into law March 4, 2010; effective July 1, 2010/March 31, 2013.
  • Screening and Assessment — Officers to Conduct Risk Assessments of Youth in Detention: Wyoming law now requires law enforcement to screen youth taken into custody with a uniform juvenile detention risk assessment instrument designed by county sheriffs. The Department of Family Services must collect and analyze data on the application of the risk assessment instrument, and report annually to the legislature. The instrument is now in use across the state, and data from completed assessments and existing detention censuses shows that the majority of youth are placed in detention for probation violations/revocations, warrants, and/or awaiting hearings/placement. A report submitted to the legislature in January 2012 acknowledges that a large portion of such youth do not belong in a secure facility for reasons of public safety or flight risk. The report encourages communities to consider serving such youth through alternatives to detention. The law additionally requires law enforcement to notify a youth’s parent or guardian as soon as possible—and no later than 24 hours—that the youth has been taken into custody. The law prohibits holding a youth under age 11 in a hardware-secure juvenile detention facility. H.B. 12/Ch. 22, signed into law March 4, 2010; effective July 1, 2011.

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Photo: tango.mceffrie, under Creative Commons License.