This bill would require the department of health and the department of corrections to collaborate to reduce criminal offender recidivism by improving mental health and substance use programming and funding.
The ACLU of Wyoming supports this bill. Expanding the use of mental health and substance use diversion programs is among the proposed reforms in the ACLU of Wyoming’s Blueprint for Smart Justice report. The report includes an overview of Wyoming’s incarcerated populations, including analysis on who is being sent to jail and prison and the racial disparities that are present, what drives people into the system, how long people spend behind bars and why people are imprisoned for so long. It also offers a calculation on the impact of certain reforms by 2025 on racial disparities in the prison population, fiscal costs and progress toward a 50 percent decarceration goal.
Although House Bill 31 comes with a price tag – the Legislative Service Office estimates it would cost $648,760 to fund – diversion programs like this are cheaper and more effective than incarceration.