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Wyoming Department Of Corrections Facing Suit Over Alleged Gender Discrimination

Wyoming Department of Corrections

In Wyoming, first-time offenders under the age of 25 can qualify for a six-month boot camp, but the program is only available to men. In a lawsuit against the Wyoming Department of Corrections, the American Civil Liberties Union allege the male-exclusive program is gender discrimination. 

ACLU attorney Stephen Pevar said the lawsuit is on behalf of 23-year-old, first-time offender, Taylor Blanchard. Blanchard was convicted on drug charges, and Pevar said her sentencing judge recommended boot camp, but she is serving a six to ten year term at the Women’s Center in Lusk since there is no women’s boot camp in the state.

Pevar said Blanchard is not the only female in prison in Lusk who missed the opportunity, and they are quickly trying to find out how many others there are.

“It’s really a shame that they weren’t allowed to take advantage of this and Wyoming taxpayers ended up paying for their room and board,” said Pevar.

The suit asks the court to order Wyoming prison officials to send Blanchard to a boot camp in another state, along with all other female prisoners in Lusk, who would have been sent to boot camp if the program had been available to them.

“Each extra day that a woman spends in prison rather than in boot camp, is an extra day of her incarceration,” said Pevar. “She still will have to complete the six-month boot camp. So the clock is ticking and we feel quite responsible for that.”

The Wyoming Department of Corrections declined to comment.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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