- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Department of Corrections is working to certify that its facilities around the state meet federal security requirements intended to eliminate sexual assaults against inmates.

Gov. Matt Mead in May certified to the U.S. Department of Justice that the state last year completed audits of the Women’s Center in Lusk and the Honor Conservation Camp in Newcastle. The state spent nearly $150,000 for additional video cameras and other equipment at the two facilities, he said.

“The (Prison Rape Elimination Act) standards present challenges,” Mead wrote to Karol Mason, a Justice Department official in Washington. “They are cumbersome and difficult to implement.”

The state expected to spend another $500,000 to bring the state boys’ and girls’ schools into compliance, Mead said. The girls’ school is set for an audit this month.

Corrections Department Deputy Director Steve Lindly said Monday that the state’s medium-security prison in Torrington will be audited starting next week. He said the state penitentiary in Rawlins and the state honor farm in Riverton will be audited next year.

Mead wrote that the state also expects to pay between $150,000 and $450,000 each for improvements at the three remaining prison facilities.

Lindly said Mead’s letter serves to assure federal officials that the state intends to fully comply with the federal prison rape elimination law.

Not every place in all of the state’s various prison facilities will be monitored by cameras, Lindly said. The state can address blind spots by implementing policies that limit the number of inmates who may congregate in those areas, he said.

There was one substantiated report of a non-consensual sexual act committed by one inmate against another inmate at the state penitentiary in Rawlins last year, according to Wyoming’s 2014 annual report on compliance with Prison Rape Elimination Act.

There were three substantiated reports of staff sexual misconduct involving offenders that year: one each at the Honor Conservation Camp, the Wyoming Women’s Center and in the department’s field services operation, the annual report states.

Lindly said the department investigates every allegation of inappropriate sexual activity involving either staff or inmates.

“Any incidence of it is too much,” Lindly said. “And both the expectation of the (federal) act and what’s reflected in the policy is zero tolerance for sexual activity.”

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Eds: This story has been corrected to correct the spelling of Lindly’s last name.

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