RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) - Budget cuts have forced the state Department of Corrections to close a 74-bed residential treatment unit at the minimum security Wyoming Honor Farm near Riverton.
The Corrections Department lost about 10 percent of its operating budget this year because of budget cuts handed down by the Wyoming Legislature in January and by Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead in April.
“Something had to give,” Honor Farm warden Mike Pacheco told The Ranger (https://bit.ly/2ajsJJr ). “We can’t pay all the bills. Something has to go by the wayside.”
About 10 jobs were lost with the closure of the treatment center at the Honor Farm.
Pacheco said they were contract employees with a private corporation. Some of them were relocated to the medium-security prison in Torrington.
“For everybody else, the contract ended June 30,” he said.
The facility that housed the treatment center still will be used as a general population housing unit, Pacheco said.
According to the WDOC, inmates generally were in residential treatment at the Honor Farm for nine to 12 months, and there was a consistent waiting list for the program.
Many of the inmates who were in treatment were sent to other institutions where substance-abuse support facilities were not shut down, including the Casper Re-Entry Center or the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington.
Pacheco noted that the Honor Farm will receive new inmates in exchange for the prisoners who leave the facility to undergo substance abuse treatment elsewhere. “We will continue to house nothing but minimum-custody inmates, and our inmate count will remain the same at 283,” he said.
Honor Farm inmates who were on the waiting list for residential treatment will be considered for programs elsewhere based on their need, the structure of their sentence and the availability of bed space, the WDOC said.
Meanwhile, Pacheco said his staff is working to provide other support that might benefit those inmates, such as vocational training or cognitive treatment.
The downturn in the coal, oil and natural gas industry has cost Wyoming thousands of jobs over the past year and hundreds of millions in state revenue.
Information from: The (Riverton, Wyo.) Ranger, https://www.dailyranger.com
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