January 21, 2017

Art 1 Sec 15 of the Wyoming Constitution states; "the penal code SHALL be framed on humaneprinciples of REFORMATION  and prevention..." (Emphasis added). A fraction of the money currently being spent improperly each year by the Wyoming Department of Corrections (more than $30million) could be used to provide programming and custody that is: appropriate, validated, evidence based, cost effective, reformative  and restorative. If the Wyoming legislature repairs the existing unnecessary high security facility (Wyoming State Prison) it will increase the overall waste by more than $90 million and drastically reduce the potential of a more successful criminal justice system. Case in point: recent budget cuts have already eliminated "reformative" treatment options; will these options be revisited when there are less tax dollars available? Prisoners go to where beds are located, however; Wyoming doesn't have the high security prisoners to justify the enormous added expense.
The prison structural problems are actually a blessing to the Wyoming tax-payers! This is an opportunity to reevaluate current practices that can be used to establish a necessary infrastructure which would save Wyoming tax-payers over a billion dollars through means that are proven to be reformative and beneficial to inmates and the community.
One example of non-reformative management practices would be in a comparison between the current WDOC practices to those of Warden Duane Shillinger, whose administration operated just prior to the inception of the WDOC. Warden Shillinger established "successful" management practices which were maintained with the same type of prisoners that are currently in WDOC. These same prisoners are now being "micro-managed" at the high security prison in Rawlins. This comparison will show that there has been a "maintained" increase in violence, warehousing and overcrowding despite A.C.A accreditation. (See A.C.A) These conditions are non-reformative and wasteful and can be directly attributed to "management practices" and "prison design". Prisoners at Rawlins sit idle with limited treatment options. Budget "requirements" are contingent to unnecessary prison management concerns.
If resources are re-focused to necessary areas, Wyoming will benefit greatly. For example, Wyoming has the second lowest recidivism rate in the country because Wyoming judges sentence low risk, non-violent people to prison. (Which other states cannot afford to do, well actually now neither can Wyoming) These recidivism numbers are not based on an actual representation of prisoners who need to be in custody. The Wyoming Department of Corrections takes credit for the low recidivism numbers when in fact the department cannot produce validated evidence that can directly correlate its management practices to the low numbers. *This is partially reflected in parole practices. The low recidivism numbers occur because the parole board paroles the mostly low-risk prisoners who have sentences that make them "eligible" for parole, (The majority of which shouldn't have been in prison in the first place) this takes place while the other "non-eligible" low risk prisoners  are unnecessarily micro-managed along with the unfortunate medium and high risk prisoners who find themselves in WDOC custody. This type of management continues until individual classification points drop (*artificially) or when parole eligibility (evidence based or not) becomes an option. It should be noted; Punishment and retribution does not address actual risk/needs assessments. These "non-reformative" practices actually increase "risk potential" which can be proven by the "maintained" increase in violence at Rawlins. Some of these prisoners who now have an increased risk created by being housed in a dysfunctional prison environment will be released into a community "unprepared" and that community will be unnecessarily put in danger.
An example of the "validated" risk/needs assessments currently being used successfully can be found in Germany and Canada. There are gaps and inefficiencies throughout the Wyoming criminal justice system that can be filled and made efficient by studying these countries and adopting their practices. Wyoming will learn how to spend only what is necessary while developing an evidence based system thus, not overspending in unnecessary areas such as high security prisons. Please take a month or so and check the available, validated, evidence based polices and procedures that are guaranteed to save Wyoming taxpayers lives and money. This information can be provided upon request or through research of the Canadian and German systems.
(*artificially) Current classifications are predicated on the basis of adjusting numbers to better fit the "management style" and "infrastructure" and not on what is actually "evidence based".)