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During my research into non-judicial approaches to promoting good juvenile behavior, I discovered a tool which is currently very popular nationwide. Is this an appropriate tool in Wyoming? The findings are mixed and I’ll share what I found on both sides of the issue.
The tool is a behavioral contract and it is being used in schools and other communities to reduce and even eliminate problem behaviors ranging from chronic truancy to generally disruptive behavior. According to the parent and teacher resources at Intervention Central:
The behavior contract is a simple positive-reinforcement intervention that is widely used by teachers to change student behavior. The behavior contract spells out in detail the expectations of student and teacher (and sometimes parents) in carrying out the intervention plan, making it a useful planning document. Also, because the student usually has input into the conditions that are established within the contract for earning rewards, the student is more likely to be motivated to abide by the terms of the behavior contract than if those terms had been imposed by someone else.
Never bark at the Big Dog. The Big Dog is always right.
On July 28 the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) published its quarterly update on state government revenue. While CREG as usual takes a low profile approach to the state's revenue problems, the actual message in the report deserves some real attention.
As we have been exploring together in recent weeks, the proposed decriminalization of status offenses in Wyoming will be positive change for our juvenile justice system. This needed change will also leave several problem behaviors in justice limbo.
From truancy to tobacco and alcohol consumption the status offense behaviors are dangerous and destructive to our youth, their families and our communities. Our challenge as a community is to come up with non-criminal alternatives which effectively deter the behavior. This way we can encourage our legislators to continue the decriminalization of status offenses secure in the knowledge that there are more appropriate deterrents in place.
Last week I wrote about some trends in truancy laws and how truancy fits into the status offense decriminalization issues for Wyoming. Although most legislators with whom I speak about status crimes and other juvenile justice issues are well informed, I still run into people who are unaware that Wyoming regularly jails status offenders or really what status offenses are. In short form, status offenses are actions that would not be considered criminal if done by an adult. Truancy is a relatively easy one to understand since adults do not have anyone requiring them to attend school.
In her big speech on economic policy on July 13, Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton outline a vision for expanding the American welfare state. At 17:45 into the video, Mrs. Clinton summarizes her entitlement agenda:
Fair pay and fair scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days, child care are essential to our competitiveness and our growth.