View Full Version : Article: Wyo. governor mum on site for new prison

Phil in Paris
10-18-2004, 04:11 PM
Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Gov. Dave Freudenthal is staying out of the process of deciding where a medium-security prison should be built.

Others are taking the same position, referring to what happened after Lovell was chosen for a medium-security prison in 1990. "We love to debate that kind of thing and have for years. And changed our minds," said Sen. John Schiffer, R-Kaycee.

Lovell was chosen after a heated selection process that involved 13 candidate towns and cities. But projections then showed that fewer medium-security inmates would be available for the prison than had been expected.

The process was stalled. When it was revived, it had turned into talk about a maximum-security prison, causing opposition in the Bighorn Basin community. The maximum-security prison was eventually built in Rawlins.

Schiffer said the Department of Corrections has a different mandate this time - one that includes rehabilitation, counseling and education. "I don't think that will take the politics out of it," he said. "But the new mandate gives some concrete guidance."

A committee of state officials recently narrowed the list of candidate communities to three: Rawlins, Riverton and Torrington.

"If the process appears to be fair at the end, and the communities feel they've been given a fair shake, I think you'll find the Legislature paying a lot of attention to the final recommendation," said House Majority Floor Leader Randall Luthi, R-Freedom.

Freudenthal said he supports the department's approach to the selection.

He said neither he nor his staff are involved in the process and will support Corrections Director Bob Lampert's recommendation unless someone can show him that the process is somehow flawed.

"Nobody has suggested to me that somehow the process is rigged," he said. "I think he's doing it above board."

But he said many lawmakers don't remember when the state engaged in political rather than programmatic decisions on prisons.

"I've taken heat from nearly every community for not supporting their community," he said. "I have said I will support the outcome of the process and that will be my recommendation to the Legislature."

Lampert plans to present a recommendation to the Legislature early next year.

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