Sheridan County receives award for excellence in juvenile justice

(Courtesy photo, Volunteers of America) (from left to right) Nicole Hauser, Chair, State Advisory Council on Juvenile Justice. Craig Fisgus, Project Director, Volunteers of America. Jo Madson, widow of Neal D. Madson, for whom the award is named Tom Ringley, Chair, Sheridan Board of County Commissioners. Dianna Bennett, County & Prosecuting Attorney, Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Sheriff Allen Thompson, Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office.

SHERIDAN, Wyo. (KEVN) - Sheridan County is the recipient of Wyoming’s 2018 Neal D. Madson Excellence in Juvenile Justice Award. The award is presented in partnership by Wyoming’s State Advisory Council on Juvenile Justice (SACJJ) and by Volunteers of America Northern Rockies (VOA).

Given each year, the award recognizes one county for its outstanding work with juvenile offenders. The award is named in honor of Neal Madson, a long-time juvenile justice professional from Sheridan and member of the SACJJ who passed away in 2016.

Representatives from the SACJJ and VOA presented a plaque to county officials in the Sheridan County Courthouse in Sheridan, Wyoming, on Monday, August 5, 2019. Dianna Bennett, county attorney; Tom Ringley, chair of the county commissioners; and Sheriff Allen Thompson accepted the award on behalf of the county.

Since 2014, Sheridan County reduced the use of secure detention for juvenile offenders by 56 percent. During that same period of time, the number of juvenile arrests only decreased by 7 percent, which indicated that the county found ways other than detention to hold juveniles accountable. To accomplish this, the county continued to streamline its services and increase inter-agency cooperation.

As an example, a screening team, known as single point of entry, met weekly to review citations issued by law enforcement. Whenever appropriate, the team referred juvenile offenders to various diversion programs in an effort to keep these juveniles from further involvement with the justice system. If diversion was not an option, the team determined the most appropriate court in which to file formal charges. This process helped to ensure that juveniles received the services they needed to avoid future law enforcement contacts.