Why Wyoming Is Using After-school Programs to Keep Kids Out of School-to-prison Pipeline

In 2013, the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (WYAA) became interested in understanding the school-to-prison pipeline based on the alarming statistics that we were seeing in Wyoming and across the nation about incarceration and detention. It was confounding and disturbing to see more and more children and youth entering the system, especially at younger ages. What was going on? And, more importantly — why?

Wyoming Inches toward Reform

Wyoming looks set to require more deliberative sentencing hearings for juveniles convicted of murder, taking into account factors such as the defendant’s mental health. Like most under-18 defendants in the state, however, they will continue to go through adult court, advocates predict. Wyatt Bear Cloud’s sentence to life in prison for a 2008 murder committed in Sheridan when he was 16 wasn’t fair, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 1, citing an earlier ruling that demands thoughtful sentencing hearings for youth on murder convictions. They told the state Supreme Court to do something else with him.