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History

When the Wyoming Department of Corrections was created in 1991 it

  1. assumed management of four institutions that had previously been under the administration of the Board of Charities and Reform;
  2. absorbed the adult offender programs in the Department of Probation and Parole and
  3. continued to provide support for the Board of Parole.

Territorial Days

(From the Wyoming Blue Book, 50th Legislature, Centennial Edition, 1990, p.541): “In 1875, the 4th Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Wyoming established the Wyoming Penitentiary Commission. Chapter 111, The Compiled Laws of Wyoming, 1876, charged the governor and three commissioners, appointed by the legislative assembly, to ‘examine into the condition and affairs of the territorial penitentiary’ at Laramie.

“The commission was also delegated the task, by Chapter 111, to determine comparative costs for transporting prisoners to Laramie and maintaining them there, or transporting prisoners out of the territory to other territorial or state prisons and paying the out-of-territory prisons to keep the Wyoming prisoners. The law empowered the commission to contract, in behalf of the territory, with authorities of a prison, or prisons, selected by the commission for incarceration of Wyoming prisoners. Finally, the law required the commission to report its findings to the legislative assembly.

“Chapter 76, Session Laws of the Territory of Wyoming, 1882, reenacted the 1875 legislation, creating the Board of Penitentiary Commissioners. The law removed the governor from the board, but required him to appoint its three members. In addition to the duties established in 1875, the board was obligated by Chapter 76 to ‘keep a full and complete record of the prisoners sentenced and confined’ in prisons designated by the board for Wyoming convicts.

“The Wyoming Board of Penitentiary Commissioners was abolished in 1891. Chapter 37, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1890-1891, gave the Wyoming State Board of Charities and Reform authority over all penal institutions in the new state of Wyoming.”

The Wyoming State Constitution, Article 7, Section 18, and related statutes, established the Wyoming State Penitentiary and defined its functions. Article 7, Section 18 states that,

“Such charitable, reformatory and penal institutions as the claims of humanity and the public good may require, shall be established and supported by the state in such manner as the legislature may prescribe. They shall be supervised as prescribed by law.”

About the Board of Charities and Reform

On July 10, 1890 the Board of Charities and Reform was established by the Wyoming State Constitution, Article 7, Section 18. Chapter 37, Session Laws of Wyoming, 1890-1891, enacted by the First State Legislature, set forth the duties and powers. The act determined that the state auditor, the state treasurer, and the state superintendent of public instruction would comprise the Board of Charities and Reform. In 1895, with the passage of chapter 34, Session Laws of Wyoming, the governor and the secretary of state were assigned membership on the board.

Duties were “such charitable, reformatory and penal institutions as the claims of humanity and the public good may require, shall be established and supported by the state in such manner as the legislature may prescribe.”

The board supervised and directed the management of all state institutions and was responsible for the maintenance and repair of all buildings and grounds. It dispensed all funds appropriated for the institutions and was empowered to “appoint and prescribe the duties of all institutional officers, and to remove them without cause.”

Additionally, the 1890-1891 law charged the Board of Charities and Reform to provide for the “care, maintenance and employment of all inmates or residents in any of the state’s institutions,” and stated that all institutions, including those already belonging to the Territory of Wyoming, were the property of the state falling under the supervision of the board.

The office of the Board of Charities and Reform was responsible for the daily management and supervision of the institutions on behalf of the board. The office was under the direction of the executive secretary, appointed by the board.

In November 1990, Wyoming voters approved a constitutional amendment abolishing the State Board of Charities and Reform. Upon dissolution of the board, the following twelve institutions were still under its control and were moved or eliminated as indicated. The board was comprised of the five elected officials (governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor, superintendent of public instruction).

    Moved to the Department of Health:
    • Veterans’ Home of Wyoming, (previously Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Home), Buffalo
    • Wyoming Pioneer Home, Thermopolis
    • Wyoming Retirement Center (previously the Sanitarium), Basin
    • Wyoming State Hospital, Evanston
    • Wyoming State Training School, Lander

    Moved to the Department of Family Services:

    • Wyoming Boys’ School (Industrial Institute), Worland
    • Wyoming Girls’ School, Sheridan
    • Youth Treatment Center (previously the Childrens’ Home), Casper
    • (Closed July 1, 1996 due to lack of appropriation by Legislature)

    Moved to the Department of Corrections:

    • Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp, Newscastle
    • Wyoming Honor Farm, Riverton
    • Wyoming State Penitentiary, Rawlins
    • Wyoming Women’s Center, Lusk

About the Department of Probation & Parole

The state Department of Probation and Parole was organized in 1941 with one officer. In that year there were a total of 121 cases filed statewide. Up until it came under the umbrella of the Department of Corrections, the Department of Probation and Parole worked with both adults and juveniles.

In 1983-84 the annual report stated that “agents supervise the conduct of persons granted a parole by the Board of Parole as well as those granted a conditional release from the state’s several correctional institutions (Wyoming State Penitentiary, Wyoming Industrial Institute, Wyoming Girl’s School, Wyoming Women’s Center). Under the direction of the district courts of the state, agents supervise those individuals granted probation by the district and juvenile courts.” During this period the Department of Probation and Parole had 1,703 active adult probation cases, 343 active adult parole cases, 286 active juvenile probation cases, and 52 active juvenile parole cases.

At the end of June 1991 the department had 2,857 active adult probation cases; 374 active adult parole cases; 575 active juvenile probation cases; and 5 active juvenile parole cases. In addition to these cases, the department supervised approximately 600 parolees and probationers through the Interstate Compact (those individuals convicted in Wyoming and living out-of-state).