The Wyoming Department of Corrections (DOC) transferred 88 inmates from the state penitentiary to a private prison in Tutweiler, Mississippi. The first group of 60 got there at the beginning of this month, with another 28 arriving this past Friday.
DOC spokesman Mark Horan said these prisoners are serving long sentences, some of them for life.
“If we’re going to move inmates across the country, we don’t want to have to continue to move them back and forth. We don’t know how long they’ll be out of state, but if it’s several years, we won’t have to bring them back if they become parole-eligible.”
Horan said most in the group have many years to go before they can apply for parole, so the DOC won’t have to move them back to Wyoming individually.
This is the first time the DOC has sent inmates out of state since the medium-security prison was built. That facility added space for the state’s rapidly growing prison population, now 2,477.
Horan said staffing in addition to space is a reason for moving these inmates. They have long sentences and a higher security classification than the general population in the state penitentiary. He said the transfer will allow the prison to close a unit, and staff brought to Rawlins from other Wyoming facilities will be able to return home. Meanwhile, the state prison will still be taking on new inmates currently detained in county jails.
“The inmates that we’re bringing in will likely just fall into the general population, and so will be able to be housed in our bigger units which are already open and being supervised,” Horan said.
He said there are no immediate plans to move more prisoners out of state. CoreCivic, the company previously known as Corrections Corporation of America, runs the facility, and also detains inmates transferred from California and other states. Horan said the prisoners from Wyoming will be imprisoned separately from the others there.