Judiciary

Judiciary: We have several issues in Wyoming. We have a prison in Rawlins in disrepair, overcrowding in our jails/prisons, a legalized marijuana initiative that may soon be on the ballot, and an ongoing struggle with civil asset forfeiture.

Judiciary
Judiciary
On the prison in Rawlins, we received a report during the 2016 budget session indicating $80+ million needed to repair the prison. I ran an amendment that would have taken $80 million from a University of Wyoming project (that hasn’t been started) and diverted it to the needs of the prison. Unfortunately, the measure failed. We still have no idea how we are going to fund the repairs/rebuilding of the prison.
On that note, we still have overcrowding in our prisons. One thought is to contract with county jails to house prisoners. While I’m not entirely opposed to that idea, I think we need to examine our laws more closely. Some laws, are ridiculous. Felony destruction of property is $1000 worth of damage in Wyoming. Should we be sending people to prison and making them felons for $1000 worth of damage? I think not. In addition to looking at our laws, I am a strong supporter of treatment/drug courts.

Regarding marijuana, I’m not for legalization, but I do think we need to move towards de-criminalization. Four counts of marijuana possession is considered a felony in Wyoming. I think this needs to be changed, and would much rather see a drug court used versus sending a person like this to prison.

Currently in Wyoming you don’t have to be convicted or even charged with a crime to have your property forfeited to the gov’t (if you are suspected of a drug-related crime). Its call civil asset forfeiture. Imagine that you’re driving down the road with two guns and $3,000 in cash as part of a business deal to buy a new used vehicle. Let’s say you get pulled over for speeding, and the officer determines by his investigation that you are going to buy drugs. He doesn’t charge you with a crime yet, but seizes your two guns and cash. In order to get your property back you have to go to civil court. Your property is presumed guilty and you have to go and determine its innocence. You don’t have the right to an attorney (because you’re not the one on trial, your property is), so you have to pay $2,000 to hire an attorney or try to get your stuff back yourself. If you lose the case, you lose the property to the gov’t. Then law enforcement gets your stuff to use for their funding. Seemed far-fetched? It’s not, it’s law in Wyoming. I support criminal asset forfeiture. You should have to be charged and convicted of a crime before forfeiting your property to the government.


Last Modified on December 27, 2016
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