A legal complaint filed nearly four months ago is raising questions about conditions at the Wyoming Women's Center. WyoFile broke the story, reporting that "three inmates at Wyoming's only women's prison have asked the federal district court to force the state to deal with overcrowding and deteriorating facilities that they allege have created unconstitutional conditions of confinement." A judge has yet to act on the matter.
Sabrina King of American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming said the constitutional rights of prisoners are not dependent on whether the legislature provides adequate funding, and that puts the Wyoming Department of Corrections in a hard place.
"Time after time the Department of Corrections has come to the legislature saying we have these costs, we have these needs, we have these issues and they're not getting the funding," said King.
Lawmakers have been discussing criminal justice reform this session, but King said that conversation has largely focused on ways to reduce the state's prison population, but has done little to address the funding needed to increase staffing and improve conditions in Wyoming's facilities.
"We have a capacity issue. We have a staffing issue and I'm not sure what it's going to take for the legislature to really comes to terms with that, and really take a hard look at how we address the staffing issues both in Rawlins and at the Women's Center."
King said one promising development is that Governor Mark Gordon has stated the need for reform.