Tags: US State Facts | Voting Rights | Wyoming | incarceration | rates

Rates of Incarceration in Wyoming

By    |   Saturday, 19 Dec 2015 02:27 AM

The United States holds the title as the world's largest incarcerator, according to think tanks, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wyoming and the Prison Policy Initiative. Changes in sentencing policies and prosecution priorities have fueled the rise in the prison population, and they have kept many people locked up. Wyoming's incarceration rates show that the Equality State has doled out some strict policies.

According to the ACLU of Wyoming's 2013 report, the incarceration rate in the state is four percent lower than the national average. The state's crime rate is 22 percent below the national average. The number of crimes has dropped considerably between 2007 and 2012. It fell by 3,000. The prison population during that time only increased by 100. Yet, the Wyoming Department of Corrections' budget saw substantial growth. It ballooned from $217 million to $296 million. Taxpayers ended up paying between $35,000 and $53,000 per prisoner.

More than a million people have been put away for nonviolent behavior, the ACLU said. Less than a tenth of crimes are considered violent in Wyoming. The majority of the crimes have been property related. More than two-thirds of drug arrests in the state were related to marijuana possession. In 2010, the state spent $9.1 million to enforce marijuana laws.

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The Prison Policy Initiative's analysis of the U.S. 2010 Census shows the incarceration rate of some communities in Wyoming are higher compared with others. Whites have been underrepresented while minority populations have been overrepresented. Blacks made up 41 percent of the incarcerated population, Hispanics made up 15 percent, and American Indian or Alaska Natives comprised 8.3 percent.

A substantial number of Wyoming's youth have been put behind bars. Wyoming has had the second-highest juvenile confinement rate in the nation, according to the National Juvenile Justice Network's 2013 report, which uses information from 2011. It found the numbers of kids held behind bars throughout the nation dropped, but the rate of youth confined behind bars in Wyoming was 2.2 times higher than the national average. For every juvenile in the state's general population, 430 were behind bars, the report said.

Three-fourths of the state's youth in detention have been held behind bars because of status offenses, according to the ACLU's "Inequality in the Equality State" 2010 report. These offenses are crimes that wouldn't be considered as such if they were an adult, such as the possession of tobacco, missing school, and violating a curfew. Students of color in the state of Wyoming and across the nation have received disproportionately harsh treatment for misbehavior or perceived misbehavior, wrote Linda Burt, the executive director of the ACLU of Wyoming in the Casper Star Tribune.

Wyoming's governor, Matt Mead, has proposed to expand a Casper pilot program to additional areas throughout the state. This way data collected can help state leaders learn of gaps and limited resources, which will enable the lawmakers to make informed decisions about juvenile justice reforms, according to The Wyoming Tribune Eagle. The program tracks juvenile crimes stats and other information. In March 2015, the state's Joint Judiciary Interim Committee decided to review issues related to the juvenile justice system before the legislative session to determine what changes were needed, according to the Sheridan Press. These issues include data collection, the Title 14 confidentiality to municipal and circuit court, diversion programs and expunging juvenile records before the next legislative session.

VOTE NOW: Is Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead Doing a Good Job?

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The United States holds the title as the world's largest incarcerator, according to think tanks, such as the American Civil Liberties Union. Wyoming's incarceration rates show that the Equality State has doled out some strict policies.
Wyoming, incarceration, rates
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2015-27-19
Saturday, 19 Dec 2015 02:27 AM
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