Four Ways New Criminal Justice Bill Impacts Wyoming

New Wyoming legislation seeks to reduce recidivism through improved behavioral health care

March 19, 2020

The Wyoming state legislature recently passed a bill that will strengthen behavioral health treatment and programming for people in the criminal justice system with evidence-based practices and robust quality assurance measures. The bill, developed as part of a Justice Reinvestment Initiative in the state, joins a package of criminal justice legislation passed in 2019 that is projected to avert more than $18 million by 2024.

House Bill (HB) 0031 does the following:

  • Directs the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Department of Corrections (DOC) to develop standardized, evidence-based practices and guidelines for behavioral health programming serving people in the criminal justice system
  • Requires behavioral health treatment providers and the DOC to share results for assessments of substance addiction, mental health, and co-occurring disorders with one another to support treatment access and continuity
  • Enables future development of a competitive, outcome-based funding stream for behavioral health treatment providers to increase the availability and quality of services
  • Creates a quality improvement unit within DOC to monitor the use and application of substance addiction, mental health, and co-occurring disorder assessments statewide

To support statewide implementation of the new treatment guidelines and standards, HB 0031 also appropriates more than $300,000 to staff the DOC’s quality improvement unit. This unit will be responsible for training and oversight to ensure that the new guidelines are implemented properly across the state.

The governor is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming weeks.

Along with passing HB 0031, the legislature also approved $2 million in continuation funding to support revisions to the state’s probation and parole incentives and sanctions system. Those revisions were mandated by legislation passed last year, which was also part of the Justice Reinvestment effort launched in 2018 with intensive technical assistance from The Council of State Governments Justice Center.

 

Photo credit: Bennian/Shutterstock.com

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