Budget cuts at the state level will mean about $18 million less for the Wyoming Department of Corrections. Department officials said with those cuts, they’ll be forced to operate their prisons with fewer people.
Department Director Bob Lampert said 125 vacancies throughout the department will not be filled. 45 of those vacancies are coming directly from employees in the state’s prisons.
“It will bring us to a comparable level of staffing compared to other states. We’re certainly not at a dangerous level,” Lampert said. “But considering what we’re used to having, it’s certainly a restricted number of positions now.”
The president of the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) represents some of the department’s employees and sent a letter to Governor Mead two weeks ago. The letter warned that reducing staffing could put the public in danger with the potential for prisoners to escape.
Funding for substance-abuse treatment services offered to prisoners will also be cut. Lampert said in the past, prisoners at risk of repeated substance abuse were able to meet with therapists. Now, some prisoners will only receive workbooks and journals.
“You’re worried that you’re not providing the level of service or the right level of service,” Lampert said. “In the past, we did an excellent job at delivering those services at an assessed need. We just won’t be able to deliver it to as many people.”
The expansion of the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution for more beds will also be delayed. Along with the needed renovations at the prison in Rawlins, Lampert said there will be a need for more space and beds by 2020.