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As I mentioned in a previous blog, I believe that Wyoming should decriminalize status offenses. According to the most recent data available through both the FBI and the OJJDP, Wyoming ranks second-to-highest in the nation for both juvenile arrests and juvenile incarcerations.
Wyoming is also the only state that has not decriminalized status offenses. Decriminalization does not necessarily mean that no juveniles would ever be arrested for behaviors that are classified as status offenses. Let’s face it; the behavior of the juvenile when he or she interacts with law enforcement and other authority figures plays a large part in whether he or she is arrested.
Are you tired of high taxes? Then move to Liberland.
A self-professed Libertarian politician from the Czech Republic says he has created a new, sovereign country on the Croatian-Serbia border where citizens decide their own tax burden, property and individual rights are respected and the national motto is "Live and Let Live." Vít Jedlička, a member of the Conservative Party of Free Citizens, recently appointed himself president of the Free Republic of Liberland, a “micronation,” located on the banks of the Danube River in a 2.7-square-mile patch of what he says is unclaimed territory. Jedlička says neither neighboring nation claimed the land when they established their borders following the breakup of Yugoslavia, and claims international law allows his claim.
This week I attended two days of the Judiciary Interim Committee. There were several juvenile justice related topics on the agenda. During my attendance at these long and sometimes heated meetings a junior legislator asked out loud (in frustration) if anyone knew whether juvenile crime in Wyoming was actually decreasing.
This legislator had heard that juvenile crime overall was decreasing nationally and wanted to know if the same was true for Wyoming.
Wyoming and Federal Funds: A Preview Featured
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on April 10 Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation expressed concerns over states' dependency on federal funds. It is refreshing to see that this topic is gaining interest among free-market think tanks, although Hoffman is a bit late to the party; my first article on the subject was published by the Heritage Foundation seven years ago.
Overall, think tanks that propose smaller government and more economic freedom have been very reluctant to touch the federal-funds issue. In 2007 and 2008, when I worked for the Civitas Institute in North Carolina and the South Carolina Policy council, I discovered that the institutional knowledge of state budgeting at both these otherwise reputable think tanks was fidgety at best. Neither think tank possessed any in-house authority on how big their state government budgets were; much of my effort went into simply drawing the attention of the management to the actual constitution of the state budget.
If you have been following juvenile justice issues at all you may have come across the fact that Wyoming is the only state in the nation which has not decriminalized status offenses. You may even believe that you have an understanding of what that means. The concept is fairly simple: a status crime is an action that would not be a crime if it was committed by an adult. Examples of status offenses for which juveniles are arrested and incarcerated in Wyoming include truancy and running away from home.
Most states have pursued a path of decriminalization and deinstitutionalization of status offending youth since the 1974 federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) was enacted “…supporting the development of community-based treatment programs and prohibiting incarceration of these youths”.