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.
Cheyenne Representative Jared Olsen said the main goal of the committee is to figure out a way to stop recidivism or when a criminal continues to re-offend. Lawmakers were told that in the past year more than half of people admitted to prisons were in this category. They believe one way to reduce recidivism is by making sure probation and parole officers are doing their job. Olsen said the committee generally is in agreement but it's been tough to convince the rest of the legislature.
“I think they come from an older school of thought, that older school is punishment, punishment, incarceration and I think it's going to take a lot of folks from the newer school of thought that believe there's something more to how we can treat our inmates,” said Olsen.
But Wyoming Department of Corrections Director, Bob Lampert, said that in order to better understand and fix probation and parole officers efficiency and effectiveness, they need data. Lampert said a workload study would focus on how probation and parole functions and what could be improved.
“To determine whether the number of staff we have available to supervise the numbers of offenders in the community is the right number and whether the job duty is actually in agreement with best practices in a national perspective,” said Lampert.
Several legislative committee members said such a study is too costly, but Lampert said it needs to be done in order to improve the system. The committee will be working towards potential policy changes to be more efficient when it comes to public safety in the state.