State implementing $5M contingency plan for WSP inmates
By Chad Abshire
RAWLINS — The State Department of Corrections has implemented what it’s calling a contingency plan in the event that every single inmate in the Wyoming State Penitentiary needs relocating.
Mark Horan, WDOC public information officer, said the agency received a bid waiver to write up a contract worth $5,602,500 with Nashville, Tenn.-headquartered Corrections Corporation of America.
According to the state’s Administration and Information department, the bid was waived April 7.
Its “justification” stated that CCA — founded in 1983 and sporting a 2015 revenue of $1.7 billion — was the “only known provider with the capability to house the entire Wyoming State Penitentiary inmate population at the required custody levels, should the need arise.”
Horan said the reason for going into the contract — which he said was still in the drafting process — was “in the event that we need to move all the inmates out at once, for any type of emergency situation.”
Once drafted and accepted, Horan said the contract’s term ran through June 2018.
Horan said the state had previously worked with CCA in 2008, prior to the construction of the state’s prison in Torrington, due to a lack of housing space.
“They placed inmates for us in private facilities in Colorado and Oklahoma. That contract expired in 2010,” Horan said.
Since then, inmates moved out of state had come back to Wyoming.
“Things are still up in the air as far as what’s needed for repairs. The committee is still being put in place to look at the different options,” Horan said, referring to the Pen and the taskforce created by Senate File 91. “If there is the need to move inmates out of state, I’d imagine CCA would help with that at that time.”
Horan said inmates moved would be out of state in less than 90 days. But where they’d be going is hard to tell.
“In the event of an emergency, we’d use CCA get inmates out of state, but it might not be to Colorado, it might be to whatever state, or multiple states, had staffed facilities with empty bed space to absorb our inmates,” Horan said.
In regards to employees, Horan said that since the contract was a contingency plan, employees would be brought alongside inmates back, once it was safe to do so.
Things that could necessitate relocating the 678 inmates currently living in the state prison include a major power outage or systems failure, Horan said.
He also said the contingency plan was crafted “particularly due to structural issues” at the prison, adding “the pen does have issues.”
In the event inmates are moved, their families wouldn’t be notified immediately, Horan said, citing the first priority was to get inmates out and transferred, as well as safety and security reasons. Families would get a notice within three or four days, he said.
The prison is at the center of scrutiny from the state legislature, which approved the creation of a taskforce to study the “feasibility” of construction an entirely new prison for a rough cost of $170 million or repairing the current facility for about half that.
Created by Senate File 91, the 13-person taskforce is being staffed by five member from both the House and Senate, as well as three members from the public.
The committee’s findings are due in October.