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A Wyoming woman who sued prison officials alleging the Wyoming Department of Corrections violated her constitutional rights will get her civil trial in 2018, more than a year after she filed suit.

Taylor Blanchard sued in July, after a judge sentenced her to prison with a recommendation for boot camp. The program can mean the difference between a long prison stint and probation. Those who succeed in boot camp can ask a judge to reduce their sentence.

Young men in Wyoming are eligible for the Newcastle-based boot camp. Because Wyoming doesn’t operate a women’s boot camp, Blanchard was facing a six-year prison sentence.

After she filed suit, Blanchard was moved more than 1,800 miles to a Florida facility that Wyoming officials say is comparable to the boot camp program in Newcastle.

Blanchard’s attorneys disagree, and the suit has gone forward.

After she was placed in the Florida program, her attorneys filed documents that state Blanchard is still being discriminated against on the basis of her gender.

Blanchard will only spend four months in the Florida program, rather than the six to nine months men spend in Wyoming’s program, according to the documents. Her lawyers argued the shorter stint limits her chances at rehabilitation. The attorneys also wrote that Blanchard would be far-removed from her family during her time in Florida.

In October, a frustrated federal judge decried the number of filings in the case, insinuating that attorneys were attempting to try the case in the press, rather than the courtroom.

A month later, the same judge ruled that Blanchard could not represent all women in similar situations, denying the woman’s motion for class-certification. Blanchard had previously argued that it was impossible to join together all members of her proposed class because the class would continue to grow as boot camp-eligible women continue to be sentenced.

Both John Robinson, who is representing Blanchard in the case, and Justin Daraie, who is representing the defendants, have declined to comment in relation to the case.

Blanchard’s trial is scheduled for Aug. 6.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson


Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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