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"A lot of sanctions just aren't as effective as you think they can be," said Jade McMichael, who teaches a tobacco education program at Mercer Family Resource Center, a Casper nonprofit that works with the group. "So this is definitely a better alternative than going to court."

"The reality is, the state is getting better," he said.

"I think we are taking some baby steps," he said. "But I really believe it is important to get that data system in place so there is less confusion, so we can really determine what is effective."

"I think if anyone looks at this [report] and thinks that everything is set in motion to have continued gradual change that will, in a reasonable period of time, significantly reduce our reliance on secure detention, I don't think they are seeing the whole picture," said Marc Homer, Kids Count director for the Wyoming Children's Actions Alliance.

Forty percent of Natrona County's juveniles were held at its Regional Juvenile Detention Center in 2010, the report said. That represents a nearly 7 percentage point decline over 2009. The rate, however, remains twice that of any other juvenile detention center in the state.

ACLU of Wyoming. But the state still handles too many juvenile cases in adult court.

the population of children ages 14 to 17.

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Christensen said the figures are skewed because about 20 percent of the kids housed at the Regional Juvenile Detention Center come from outside the county. The county also has a system that allows juvenile offenders to serve time on weekends so they don't miss school. Even though it's part of the same punishment, each weekend is counted separately, further skewing the county's statistics, Christensen said.

The declines in juvenile arrests and secure detention are a good thing, said Linda Burt, executive director of Nike Cortez Lumberjack

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A report released last year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed Wyoming led the nation in jailing children in 2007.

Wyoming's juvenile justice system has been dogged by a reputation for favoring punishment over rehabilitation. But there are indications that reforms are having an effect.

The drop in arrests and detentions reflect an increased focus by counties to link kids with the appropriate services, said Craig Fisgus, projects director for Volunteers of America Northern Rockies, the group that produced the report.

Others aren't so sure. Critics of Wyoming's juvenile justice system insist the state has made little progress in reducing its reliance on secure detention.

In 2010, Homer produced a documentary on juvenile justice in Wyoming. He's skeptical that Wyoming has made much progress in fixing its system. The drop in juvenile arrests, he noted, occurred amid a three year decline in Buy Nike Cortez Nz

Wyoming's approach has also come under fire from the American Civil Liberties Union, which last year called for the creation of a unified juvenile court system.

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"Usually, you don't end up in court until it's your third contact with the juvenile justice system," he said.

Critics of secure detention say it results in higher recidivism rates for young offenders. It's also more expensive.

The report shows the county is working toward using juvenile detention only when necessary, Christensen said.

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Reform advocates have noted the difficulty in obtaining Nike Cortez Aloha Print

Each Wednesday, a group gathers at the Natrona County District Attorney's Office to review juvenile cases.

The state reduced its use of secure detention for juvenile offenders by 27 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to a new report from a nonprofit group that monitors juvenile justice in Wyoming. Juvenile arrests dropped 9 percent over the same period.

Natrona County's single point of entry system is designed to keep low risk juveniles out of the courts. It's based on the idea that most kids can best be served through rehabilitation, rather than a fine or jail time.

"We have a lot of agencies that are collecting data," said Gary Hartman, a retired judge who now serves as juvenile justice policy advisor to Gov. Matt Mead. "But they are collecting it for their own reasons and rationales. And there is no way to share the information."

Thirteen of Wyoming's 23 counties now comply with federal guidelines designed to protect juveniles, according to the report, "The State of Juvenile Detention in Wyoming." Another four counties, including Natrona, experienced fewer violations in 2010.

Natrona County instituted its single point of entry system in 2008. All counties are now required to operate similar programs. They have the same mission: Connect young offenders with services that can help get them back on the right path.

The committee includes prosecutors, school and government officials, and law enforcement officers. Together, they connect juveniles with the services that best suit their needs.

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accurate juvenile justice data in Wyoming. The Volunteers of America report urged state leaders to develop a standardized, comprehensive data collections system for juvenile offenders. Such a system, supporters say, would allow decision makers to gauge the effectiveness of different programs.

The system leads to fewer kids in detention, said Assistant District Attorney Brian Christensen. In most situations, kids can avoid arrest or jail time.

Despite Nike Cortez Navy Leather the progress noted in the report, Wyoming still has a long way to go to fix its system, critics say.

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Wyoming jails fewer juveniles

The group might require a teen caught drinking alcohol to complete a substance abuse course. A boy who littered might be ordered to perform community service.

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