Campbell County’s Diversion Program Explained
Alternative sentencings have steadily expanded across the United States for the past few decades in order to rehabilitate criminal behavior and lower prison populations more effectively. The state of Wyoming is no different and has several programs in place to allow criminal offenders to avoid prison time while also ensuring the needs of their community are met. This includes everything from probation to substance abuse programs to community service. In addition to programs helping adult offenders move on from a conviction, minors are also eligible for similar programs that can help them avoid developing a criminal record.
Diversion Programs in Wyoming
Diversion programs aimed at young adults are nothing new for Wyoming. In 1990, the state opened the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp, also known as the Wyoming Boot Camp, as part of the Youthful Offender Program in Newcastle County. This facility offers first-time offenders under the age of 25-years-old the chance to complete a 180-day program instead of being sent to prison. The program is designed to help first-time offenders avoid developing criminal behaviors by requiring them to perform at least six hours of a physical activity, work in team-building exercises, and even receive their GEDs. While the program is only available to men, our founding attorney Steven Titus has pushed for female defendants to be admitted.
Among the various alternative sentencing option available to defendants in Wyoming, Campbell County offers one uniquely tailored to minors called the Juvenile Diversion Program. Like the Wyoming Boot Camp, this program is designed to help rehabilitate juvenile offenders and reduce the possibility that they go to prison in adulthood. Unlike the Wyoming Boot Camp, the Juvenile Diversion Program is only available to minors between the ages of 12-17 but it does allow both boys and girls to enroll. This program also allows the youth to remain home and attend school rather than entering a facility. However, there are strict requirements for them.
Entering the Juvenile Diversion Program
As mentioned above, the program is only available to first-time juvenile offenders between the ages of 12 and 17-years-old. While there are no specific offenses that are covered under the program, common juvenile crimes that can lead to the diversion program include:
- Possession of controlled substance or alcohol
- Breach of peace
If the juvenile court determines that the program is a viable option to curb the minor’s behavior, they may be admitted, but only if they have no prior convictions, willingly state that they would like to enter the program, and plead guilty to their charges. The courts will not force a minor to enter the program against their will and tend to offer this option to minors who demonstrate a genuine regret over their actions.
Once admitted to the program, the juvenile will be required to obey several guidelines for between six months and a year; otherwise, they may be dismissed from the program and must return to juvenile court for a final sentencing. Being dismissed from the program can also lead to a more serious sentencing. That is why, if you are offered the chance to join the program, you should always abide by the following rules:
- Be enrolled in school and maintain an average grade of C or above in every class
- Obey a diverse curfew
- Complete a specific number of community service hours
- Submit to random drug and alcohol testing
- Submit a letter of apology to the victim of your crime, if there is a victim
- Pay restitution to the victim
- Possibly complete a drug and alcohol evaluation
- Complete Corrective Thinking Classes
Corrective Thinking Classes are another key part of the program that involves teaching a youth about why they committed a crime and how to avoid that behavior in the future. The class takes place over four-weeks and is taught by a Diversion Officer who will work to help the youth understand how they approach certain problems in life and how to properly respond when presented with a criminal activity.
Once a juvenile completes the program, their record will be expunged and, according to the court, they will be rehabilitated.
Advocating for Alternative Sentencing
Seeing your child be charged for a crime can be devastating. You may assume you did something wrong or that they got caught in a bad situation, but at the end of the day, you want what is best for your child. Oftentimes, they may be required to enter a juvenile correctional facility and end up having a criminal record that follows them for the rest of their lives.
However, that does not have to be your child’s future. The state of Wyoming has started pushing more and more for diversion programs and, if your child is eligible, the attorneys at Steven Titus & Associates, P.C. can advocate for placement so that your child has a fair shot at learning from their actions. Even if they are not eligible, our Gillette criminal defense attorneys can defend them in a juvenile court and possibly have all charges dismissed, meaning they do not even have to attend a diversion program. To learn how we can help your child after an arrest, call our offices at (307) 257-7800.
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