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Female Inmate Loses Appeal In Wyoming Discrimination Case

The Wyoming Women's Center prison in Lusk, Wyoming.
The Wyoming Women's Center prison in Lusk, Wyoming.

A female inmate at the center of a federal discrimination lawsuit against the Wyoming Department of Corrections has lost her appeal after a ruling in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Taylor Blanchard was a 23-year-old first-time offender when she was charged with conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance. Her age and the nature of the crime made her eligible for a boot camp that would have cut down her six- to ten-year sentence significantly. However, the Wyoming Department of Corrections only offered the in-state program to men.

"She was denied that solely because she's a woman. So the whole thing about it just stinks - not just for Taylor, but for all women in Wyoming," said Stephen Pevar, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who represented Blanchard in the case.

According to Pevar, the state sent Blanchard to a similar, though inferior, program in Florida. In early August the judge ruled her case moot as Blanchard had completed that out-of-state program.

To Pevar's knowledge, Wyoming still doesn't offer the boot camp to women. The Wyoming Department of Corrections said it would not answer that question without a freedom of information request, a process that can take weeks to months to complete.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 Wyoming Public Radio. To see more, visit Wyoming Public Radio.

Maggie Mullen is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in Casper. She is currently a Masters candidate in American Studies and will defend her thesis on female body hair in contemporary American culture this May. Before graduate school, she earned her BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming. Maggie enjoys writing, cooking, her bicycle, swimming in rivers and lakes, and most any dog.