The Albany County Commission recently approved the Albany County Juvenile Board’s plan to treat youth with substance abuse charges in a juvenile drug court, as more controlled substance cases arise.
Albany County Prosecuting Attorney Peggy Trent said about 60 percent of criminal cases in 2017 involved drugs or alcohol. The implementation of the juvenile board’s plan could provide Laramie’s youth with help for dealing with controlled substances and preventing other legal problems down the road, Trent said.
“The drug epidemic is hitting our youth and we need to get ahead of the curve,” Trent said. “The (cases) are not just marijuana. We are dealing with methamphetamines and other types of drug offences.”
The juvenile drug court was inspired by the Albany County Drug Court, she said. Similar to drug court, youth could be referred to the juvenile drug court to receive treatment from medical personnel, who could help treat substance abuse problems, Trent said.
“This is a project that has been in discussion with the juvenile board for some time,” Trent said. “We are going to work with (Drug Court program manager Amy Terrell) as well as develop protocols for this plan.”
Albany County Commissioner Heber Richardson said he is in favor of the board’s plan.
“The challenge is, we have to move quickly, because we are losing kids all along the way,” Richardson said.
Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley said having the juvenile court is also a preventative measure to try to stop crimes such as destruction of property that often accompany substance abuse.
“I would venture to guess that 75 percent of everything we deal with — the underlining factor is alcohol or drugs,” O’Malley said. “I don’t see an end in the drug issue right now. Methamphetamine and heroin are all leading into property crimes and crimes against persons.”