Wyoming Department of Corrections

The Council of State Governments Justice Center

A new report from the Council of State Governments Justice Center says Wyoming has some improvements to make in fostering access to post-secondary education for people who are currently and formerly incarcerated. The national criminal justice non-profit has previously worked with the state on ways to lower Wyoming's prison population.

Those charged with municipal crimes in Riverton can now be sent to a jail nearly 100 miles away in Worland. 

Public Domain, Pixabay

According to new statistics from the Department of Justice, the country's incarceration rate is continuing to decline. From 2007 to 2017, the U.S. prison and jail population decreased by more than 10 percent. But that's not the case in Wyoming.

Wyoming Pathways from Prison

For the last three years, Wyoming Pathways from Prison has been offering college courses to incarcerated women and men in Wyoming's five correctional facilities. This week the group is hosting the Transformative Education in Prison and Beyond Symposium at the University of Wyoming.

photo from dlrgroup.com with changes by Tennessee Watson

Already this year, two Wyoming inmates have died from apparent suicide. The incidents have raised questions about the impact of staffing and bed shortages.

Bob Beck

Wyoming's prisons are overcrowded and the problem is predicted to get much worse. The Wyoming Department of Corrections was forced to place 88 prisoners out of state this year and so the state brought in the Council of State Government's Justice Reinvestment program to try and find some solutions. The reason for the growth is that too many people are being returned to prison for probation and parole violations. 

Andrew Graham/WyoFile


Wyoming's prisons are exceeding capacity, and as a result, state prisoners are held indefinitely in county jails, and this past year the state paid to house 88 prisoners at a private facility in Mississippi. State lawmakers are at a crossroads: spend $50 million to house more prisoners or figure out how to reduce the incarceration rate. Wyoming Public Radio's Tennessee Watson sat down with WyoFile reporter Andrew Graham to discuss his reporting on solutions to the problem.

Wyoming Department of Corrections

For the last several years the Wyoming Department of Corrections has urged lawmakers to implement a number of reforms that could reduce a growing prison population. Some of those ideas involved changing sentencing guidelines and getting non-violent offenders back on the street. But a couple of years ago a massive Criminal Justice Reform measure died after the Senate President declined to hear it. 

Wyoming Department of Corrections

An organization that offers non-partisan recommendations on a variety of issues says in the last ten years Wyoming's prison population grew by 12 percent. This number makes Wyoming the 9th largest percentage change in the country.

Kamila Kudelska

The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee met Tuesday to discuss ways to increase probation and parole efficiency and effectiveness. This comes after the state Department of Corrections sent 88 inmates to a private facility in Mississippi due to overcrowding in Wyoming’s prisons.

By Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

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.  

If you want to become a licensed dental hygienist or sell insurance in Wyoming, you have to be reviewed by a professional licensing board.

These boards oversee a number of industries in the state, and their rules for admitting people convicted of a crime vary depending on the profession. State lawmakers have introduced two bills that would instruct all licensing boards to look past convictions for some crimes.

Wyoming Department of Corrections

A class-action suit alleging the Wyoming Department of Corrections violated a woman’s constitutional rights faced an unexpected hurdle this week. A federal judge ruled the plaintiff cannot represent all women in similar situations, so the case cannot now move forward as a class-action lawsuit.

When Taylor Blanchard was convicted of drug charges, she was a first-time offender and under the age of 25, making her eligible for boot camp. Instead, she’s serving a six to ten year term at the Women’s Center in Lusk, because there is no women’s boot camp in the state.

Wyoming Department of Corrections

This fall, prisoners at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington will be able to earn college credits through a program called Wyoming Pathways from Prison.

This is just one of the many educational opportunities this unique partnership between the Department of Corrections and the University of Wyoming is offering incarcerated Wyomingites.

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. 

Liam Niemeyer

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.

Miles Bryan

When you hear “law enforcement” what do you picture? A police officer, a sheriff’s deputy, maybe a highway patrol trooper--but probably not a prison guard. That is a problem for Wyoming’s Department of Corrections recruiting division. Right now they’re 20 percent short of guards system wide. A lot of that shortage is due to recent growth in high paying energy jobs, but Corrections has struggled for many years with recruitment and retention, in Wyoming and across the country.

Wikimedia Commons

Inmates at Wyoming’s Medium Security Correctional Institution will need more than classroom instruction to succeed after they’re released—and there are a number of programs inside Torrington that try and prepare prisoners for the world outside the prison’s walls.

Tim Well’s prerelease course at Torrington looks more like a high school classroom than a prison. An inspirational quote is written on the blackboard, along with a checklist--3 cover letters, 2 job applications, and a resume--all to be completed before graduation. Today’s lesson is about money and parenting.

Ken Piorkowski via Flickr Creative Commons

Wyoming lawmakers are considering changing state law to allow firing squads in the execution of condemned convicts.

A similar bill failed introduction in the state Senate, but after Wyoming Department of Corrections Director Bob Lampert testified before the legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee, the committee asked staff to draft a bill allowing firing squads—which they’ll consider at their next meeting in July.

Micah Schweizer

In 1967, Rawlins resident Duane Shillinger was hired by the Wyoming State Penitentiary as a counselor. Later, through an unexpected turn of events, he ended up serving as warden for seventeen years. In this story, he remembers the transition from the 19th century facility to the current one, and the relationships he formed with inmates.

Inmates in Wyoming’s jails and prisons frequently complain that they don’t receive adequate medical care. That might not seem like a huge problem, but the Eight Amendment of the Constitution requires that if prison staff know an inmate has a serious medical need, they have to treat it.

Civil rights groups are worried that serious cases are being ignored. But the Wyoming Department of Corrections says inmates just don’t have a realistic idea of how they should be treated. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.