ACLU

As U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, increases its activity in Wyoming and the nation, some activists are taking steps to provide legal information to immigrants.

Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

A much more concerted effort is underway to abolish the death penalty in Wyoming. The League of Women Voters, religious groups, the Wyoming ACLU and Wyoming's chapter of the NAACP have organized a campaign after an effort to abolish capital punishment failed in the State Senate this year after passing the House. Sabrina King of Wyoming's ACLU is leading the nine month campaign to gain support for the effort and she discusses the effort with Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck.

WyoSayNo

A coalition to stop the construction of a privately-run immigrant detention center in Evanston is organizing events across the state called Fiestas de Familias. These parties celebrate kinship while drawing attention to policies that organizers say separate families. The effort is led by WyoSayNo and the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming.

Courtesy: Sabrina King

A new report says Wyoming’s prison system is growing, which is driving up costs and the culprit is the lack of prison reform and new legislation that could lead to more people being placed behind bars. ACLU of Wyoming has released a report called Bucking the Trend: How Wyoming can reverse course through reduced incarceration and lowered costs

State Policy Director Sabrina King says they’ve given the legislature some ideas.

 

Wyoming Department of Corrections

In Wyoming, first-time offenders under the age of 25 can qualify for a six-month boot camp, but the program is only available to men. In a lawsuit against the Wyoming Department of Corrections, the American Civil Liberties Union allege the male-exclusive program is gender discrimination. 

Miles Bryan

When WPR visited Wyoming American Civil Liberties Union Director Linda Burt at her sunny Cheyenne office she was packing boxes in between phone calls. She didn’t seem like someone who had just found out she was losing her job.

“A guy who used to be on the [ACLU] board just called me to commiserate,” she said. “He suggested I come visit him in Las Vegas, so I could always do that.”

The Wyoming Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is closing permanently, making Wyoming the only state in the nation without an ACLU office.

The ACLU chapter in Wyoming is one of only a few across the country funded entirely by the national organization. It issued a statement saying the organization was cutting seven percent of its total budget, and the closure of the Wyoming office was a result of that “financial realignment”

A Wyoming legislative committee has voted to support a bill that would require law enforcement to get warrants to use drones to gather evidence in criminal cases. The Wyoming Liberty Group and Wyoming ACLU are both strong supporters of the bill. ACLU Director Linda Burt said restrictions are appropriate.

“These can be very intrusive means of searches with drones, they can be very small, and they can go into your homes without your knowledge, so we think it’s very important that there should be a warrant for any searches with drones.”

The number of Wyoming prisoners who asked the ACLU for help with their criminal cases increased between 2012 and 2013, according to a report released today by the ACLU of Wyoming.

The report is compiled from complaints received by inmates in Wyoming prisons and county jails. Last year, requests for legal help accounted for 15 percent of complaints from inmates—more than twice the share of complaints the year prior.

ACLU Staff Attorney Jennifer Horvath says the organization is being called on more due to inadequacies in the public defender system.

The Wyoming chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says it’s been getting more complaints than in the past about medical and mental health care in the state’s jails and prisons.

The ACLU’s Jennifer Horvath says a common complaint is that when doctors outside the prison recommend that an inmate see a specialist, the prison refuses.

Katie’s Law, a bill that would have allowed the state to collect DNA of people arrested for certain felonies will not move forward in the Wyoming House.

A committee voted 5-3 to kill the bill, which is named after a 22-year-old New Mexico resident whose killer was identified based on DNA matching. Proponents of the bill argued that DNA is the modern equivalent of a fingerprint.

Worland High School administrators are trying to bar a student from using the photo he has chosen for the yearbook.

Matt Jolley is an openly gay student who submitted a photo of himself holding a rainbow flag. The teacher sponsoring yearbook and the school principal say the photo was too political. But Jolley says many students submit photos with accessories that represent who they are and he should be allowed to do the same.

American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming staff attorney Jennifer Horvath says students don’t leave their freedom of speech at the school door…

Jackson Hole Rodeo commits to non-sectarian prayer

Dec 18, 2012

The provider of the Jackson Hole Rodeo has agreed to change the event’s opening prayer to be non-sectarian.

Jackson Mayor Mark Barron says the rodeo used to open with a prayer that mentioned Jesus, and his office received complaints about that.

“We have contestants that don’t follow that faith,” Barron said. “We have attendees that come from around the world. And so there were some people who didn’t appreciate the Christian element of the prayer.”

The town’s new concession agreement specifies that the opening prayer will be non-sectarian.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a parolee who says he was forcibly catheterized to provide a urine sample.  

Wyoming A-C-L-U Attorney Jennifer Horvath says Parolee Daniel Delaney did consent to testing without search warrants, but he had submitted a breath and blood sample.

The Wyoming Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says that most complaints surrounding state prisons and jails involves improper medical of mental health care.  Much of that has to do with inmates not getting their necessary medication.  

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a decision by a Wyoming court, ordering Fremont County elections officials to implement a single-member elections system.

The decision is an attempt to remedy discrimination against American Indian voters.

In the past, Fremont county used an at-large system, wherevoters chose candidates for the entire county, rather than for smaller districts. That meant minority candidates didn’t have much of a chance. In contrast, a single-member system allows voters to choose candidates from their specific area.