Sweetwater County Receives 2016 Neal D. Madson Excellence in Juvenile Justice Award [VIDEO]

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Sweetwater County has been recognized for outstanding work with juvenile offenders.

The 2016 Neal D. Madson Excellence in Juvenile Justice Award was presented to Sweetwater County representatives during a special ceremony today. Sweetwater County Juvenile Probation Director Karin Kelly, Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell, and County Attorney Daniel Erramouspe received the award from Craig Fisgus, Project Director for Volunteers of America.

The award is presented in partnership by Governor Mead’s State Advisory Council on Juvenile Justice and by Volunteers of America Northern Rockies.

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

According to information from Volunteers of America, Sweetwater County has reduced the use of secure detention for juvenile offenders by 49 percent over the past five years. 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.

In addition, when secure detention was warranted, the county placed offenders in its juvenile detention center. This facility also served other counties, thus keeping juvenile offenders out of adult jails. Staff tracked information on juvenile detention, which helped officials both in Sweetwater County and in other counties make more informed decisions on how to improve programming and better allocate financial resources.