U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Call to Stop Child Prosecutions in Wyoming Adult Courts

NCJ Number
Pat Arthur; Mikaela Rabinowitz; Jennifer Horvath
Date Published
June 2010
28 pages
This report examines Wyoming's use of adult court to prosecute children as criminals for behavior that is more adolescent than criminal.
Current research estimates indicate that 85-90 percent of children involved with the criminal justice system in the State of Wyoming are currently being processed through adult courts rather than through juvenile courts, most times for actions that are considered typical of normal adolescence. This outcome means that children are often left with criminal conviction on their records for actions that would have been considered minor or adolescent misbehaviors in other States. In addition, children often do not receive the rehabilitative social services provided through the juvenile justice system that would enable them to become more productive members of the community. This report examines the disparate system of youth justice in Wyoming that has resulted from the State's failure to properly codify how children are adjudicated through the criminal justice system. This has led to district courts having concurrent jurisdiction over juvenile matters at the same time that adult courts are allowed to prosecute children for most of the same offenses. The report highlights numerous instances of cases where children have been improperly prosecuted for minor crimes and status offenses. The report addresses several legal concerns regarding the State's existing practices. These include the prosecution of children for acts not criminal if committed by an adult - a violation of the eighth amendment; the routine shackling of children in court which has been deemed unconstitutional; the questionable practices related to appointment of counsel procedures and recoupment of cost of counsel; and the arbitrary and discriminatory effect of direct file practices.