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Riverton Officials Seek Solutions To Jail Overcrowding

Those charged with municipal crimes in Riverton can now be sent to a jail nearly 100 miles away in Worland. 

The city struck a deal to begin sending inmates to Washakie County Jail after Fremont County Detention Center in Lander stopped boarding inmates accused of municipal crimes like public intoxication. 

Riverton Mayor Richard Gard said that change was the result of a years-long overcrowding problem at the Fremont County Detention Center that intensified in recent months. 

“The real bottleneck is between getting people that are in jail sentenced and to their appropriate places that they need to be after their sentencing,” Gard said. 

The Fremont County facility can house 200 inmates at a time. Gard said he hopes that the option of sending inmates to Worland takes the pressure off of that facility, but that he sees the need for a longer-term solution. 

“The brightness of hope always gives us the thought that we may have the need of less jail space, but I don’t see that as the trend,” Gard said. “I think we do need to have an adult conversation about where we are going and what are we going to do.” 

Part of the problem, according to Gard, is that state correctional facilities are also struggling to keep up with demand for beds. So, he said even building another county jail might not solve the problem. 

In the meantime, Gard said the city is turning to technology like ankle monitors and GPS confinement to keep non-violent offenders out of jail when possible.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Savannah Maher, at smaher4@uwyo.edu.

Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them.
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