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House Committee Approves Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Bob Beck
Wyoming Public Radio

A Wyoming legislative committee has given unanimous support to an ambitious bill intended to reduce prison sentences, provide more probation, and provide enhanced rehabilitation to those convicted of crimes. 

The Criminal Justice Reform measure is viewed by many in law enforcement as a way to treat people in a way that will prevent them from re-committing crimes. The tough sell may be the $2.8 million price tag at a time of fiscal austerity. orrections Substance Abuse Specialist Frank Craig says Wyoming can expect a great deal of savings in the long run.

“If the national institute from drug abuse estimates are correct, for every dollar spent on programs there’s a $4 to $7 reduction that would translate. This bill has the potential to reduce those associated costs anywhere from between $11.3 and $19.8 million.”

Byron Oedekoven of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police says if the funding stays intact it could make a big difference, but without the funding he says the legislation will do little good. The committee did strip out a provision that some argued gave prosecutors unfair veto power over an individual’s treatment.

The measure should be debated by the House next week.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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