ACLU of Wyoming Releases 2011 Prison & Jail Report
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2012
Contact: Linda Burt, Executive Director, 307.637.4565; firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheyenne, WY – According to a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming, deficiencies in medical and mental health care top the list of complaints from prisoners in Wyoming.
Compiled from complaints received from prisoners in Wyoming's jails and prisons, "Incarceration In Wyoming" provides details about the numbers and nature of complaints the organization received in 2011. Poor medical and mental health care generated nearly a quarter of complaints from the prisons, and a fifth of the complaints from jails. "We are especially concerned about jails taking people off medically necessary medications with adverse effects," says Linda Burt, Executive Director of the Wyoming ACLU.
The Wyoming ACLU receives complaints about jail and prison conditions and other legal claims from prisoners, attorneys, friends and family members. Unless it is an emergency, the ACLU generally requires that prisoners attempt to resolve complaints through an administrative grievance process before intervening on their behalf.
Releasing this data for the first time, the ACLU of Wyoming hopes it increase public awareness, accountability and transparency of jails and prisons in Wyoming. Promoting humane conditions of confinement, consistent with constitutional protections like health, safety and human dignity, is one the ACLU's highest priorities.
"Our work here in Wyoming has brought about significant improvements in the conditions of confinement in our state," said Linda Burt, executive director of the ACLU of Wyoming. "While the Wyoming Department of Corrections and the vast majority of jail officials are responsive when we contact them, unconstitutional conditions remain."
The ACLU also works to combat over-incarceration in America. According to the report, the U.S. incarcerates more individuals – both in numbers and by percentage of the population – than any other country in the world, resulting in heavy costs to society, communities and taxpayers. Part of the challenges jail officials face is how to handle an ever-growing prison population where inmates are getting longer sentences, despite limited resources and demands for budget cuts. Understaffing and overcrowding often play a significant role in the complaints received by the ACLU.
"Corrections officials have an extremely difficult job. They encounter considerable challenges, particularly in the day and age of austerity budgets." Burt said.
The report includes a directory of all Wyoming Department of Corrections institutions and county jails, along with "Know Your Rights" resource guides. The "Know Your Rights" guides are distributed by the Wyoming ACLU to inform prisoners of their constitutional rights based on the nature of their complaint.
"Incarceration In Wyoming" is available online at www.aclu-wy.org.