A woman who sued Wyoming prison authorities has gotten what she wanted — a spot in a boot camp rather than prison.
Taylor Blanchard will begin serving at a boot camp program in Florida this fall after suing the state this summer alleging her civil rights had been violated because Wyoming’s own program is open only to young men.
Reached by email Friday, Blanchard’s attorney John Robinson said he was “very pleased” with Blanchard’s placement.
“We are hopeful that the remaining women in the Wyoming women’s prison who should have been given an opportunity to complete a boot camp program are given the same opportunity as Ms. Blanchard, and the men.”
In Wyoming, certain offenders under the age of 25 can attend a boot camp program for rehabilitation if a judge recommends it. The inmates spent six months in the program, where much of their 17-hour days are spent focused on work and physical activity.
Inmates who successfully complete the program can then ask a judge to reduce their remaining prison sentence.
A judge had recommended Taylor Blanchard attend a boot camp program. However, because Wyoming does not offer a women’s boot camp, she faced spending six to 10 years in prison instead. Blanchard sued the Wyoming Department of Corrections director and the Women’s Center warden in July, alleging a civil rights violation on the basis of her gender.
Although men have regularly been assigned to the state’s boot camp program in Newcastle, Blanchard is the only woman who has been recommended for the program. Blanchard filed a a class-action suit on behalf of any women who might be recommended for the program in the future.
Blanchard was originally sentenced to probation for drug crimes. A state judge recommended her for boot camp after she failed a required in-patient substance abuse program.
As the suit was getting underway, the Wyoming Department of Corrections was looking for a similar program should attend outside of Wyoming, according to federal court documents filed on behalf of the prison authorities. The Department of Corrections found three programs willing to take her, eventually sending her to Florida, where she will begin a similar program this fall. In the meantime, she is being held in an intake facility.
The documents, filed on Tuesday and Thursday in U.S. District Court for the State of Wyoming, seek to prevent Blanchard’s class from being certified, which would end the suit. The defendants in the case argue that because Blanchard has now been placed in a boot camp, her rights have not been violated and she is not a suitable representative of women who “have been or will be” denied access to boot camps.
The documents initially filed by Blanchard allege the Wyoming Department of Corrections did not allow Blanchard to attend the state-run boot camp in Newcastle and denied her request to attend a boot camp that accepts women out-of-state.
Robinson declined to comment on the latest round of court filings.