Vaunted Wyoming Prison Reform Bill Died, But Why?

A legislative proposal designed to curb Wyoming’s growing prison population seemed to have broad-based support. Yet it died without a vote. WyoFile tries to figure out why.

WyoFile looks behind the legislative veil in Wyoming in an analysis headlined, “Who Killed Criminal Justice Reform?” The story focuses on the political machinations involved in House Bill 94,  a complex piece of legislation designed to curb Wyoming’s rising prison population (and costs). In the end, HB 94, which once seemed to have broad-based support, was allowed to die without a vote in the desk drawer of the senate president.

The story of House Bill 94’s life and death is a story of the push and pull between different elements of the justice system. It’s a story of prosecuting attorneys and Department of Corrections officials whose goals conflict in stark ways, and of a member of the Board of Parole whose beliefs were so strong he worked against his own colleagues. It’s also the story of how Wyoming’s citizen legislature can struggle to pass complex legislation, particularly when it comes without influential “rabbis” — as legislators sometimes call a bill’s chief proponent — but instead powerful skeptics.