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Casper could save money by putting prisoners in CRC instead of prison

CASPER, Wyoming — The Natrona County Detention Center has inmates. The Casper Reentry Center has inmates and plenty of extra beds. It’s cheaper to house misdemeanor inmates at the CRC, 10007 Landmark Lane, than at the jail at 1100 Bruce Lane, and the Casper City Council recently renewed its contract with the CRC.

And that gave me an idea.

According to a memo sent to City Manager Carter Napier by Chief of Staff Fleur Tremel and City Clerk of Court Leticia Drake, CRC has two programs for people convicted of misdemeanors:

  • Short-term work release placements are available for defendants serving three to seven days for DUI. They will have the option to pay $50 per day to serve their sentence and will be released daily to maintain employment while serving their sentence.
  • Defendants with longer sentences could receive help from a therapeutic community at the CRC. They would be housed at the CRC at a rate of $80 per day, which the city would pay. They would receive the benefits of group sessions, logistical help with reentry into society and life skills to help them when they are released into the community.

Municipal court judges would hear cases and allow misdemeanor defendants to be booked into the CRC instead of the Natrona County Detention Center. The agreement would allow the city to cut some costs because the CRC’s daily rate is lower than the jail rate, which was $141 per day a year ago, according to a June 23, 2023, article in the Casper Star-Tribune and reprinted on Corrections1.com.

File, Oil City News

On Tuesday, CRC Director Jerry Hughes spoke to the council about progress since the leadership change during a council work session in the temporary chambers at The Lyric, 230 W. Yellowstone Highway. The council does not take official action during work sessions, nor does it receive public comments.

CRC Director Jerry Hughes told the council he has been in the role for about a year and provided some facts about the site.

CRC has 387 beds and a current census of 212 inmates, he said. Inmates are placed in a variety of settings, including home confinement, pre-release, parole, probation, several types of secure confinement and adult community corrections programs. It employs 62 people, including case managers, program directors, security staff and federal case managers. It also has contracts with five federal, state and county governments and corrections bureaus.

Many inmates participate in therapeutic community programs and adult community programs. Participants in the adult community corrections program often work in work-release positions at businesses in Casper. CRC also works with mental health agencies such as the Central Wyoming Counseling Center.

“These are your busboys, your cooks, anyone you can imagine,” he said.