Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp
About the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp
The Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp (WHCC) was constructed on state land north of the town of Newcastle and in 1989, 24 minimum custody inmates were transferred to Newcastle to begin reconstruction of the modular buildings that would become the kitchen and dining facility, inmate barracks, and offices. Since its modest beginning, the WHCC has grown into a prison containing three dorms housing 238 minimum security inmates and features a double fenced-in secure ITU building which houses 56 inmates. WHCC houses all custody levels for the female ITU population and minimum custody for the male population The WHCC now includes a warehouse, as well as programming, vocational, recreational, and educational space, to allow us to meet the goal of reducing recidivism through cognitive and behavioral intervention.
Wyoming State Forestry Division
The Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp system is a joint effort between the Wyoming Department of Corrections and the Wyoming State Forestry Division. This mutual affiliation has been operational, in one form or another, since 1964. The Wyoming Department of Corrections operates the facility and the State Forestry Division supervises the inmates assigned to the forestry crews.
Jobs and/or projects completed by the forestry work crews, while under the direct supervision of Wyoming State Forestry crew supervisors, fall into four categories. These categories are 1) forestry projects, 2) firefighting projects, 3) community service projects, and 4) federal projects.
1) Forestry Projects are conducted on state lands and are overseen by the State Forestry Division. These projects typically follow the timber/state land management activities. They include pre-commercial thinning; salvaging of cut wood into posts, firewood, or saw logs; slash burning; erosion control; tree planting and transplanting; pine seed collection; and insect and disease suppression including biological control of leafy spurge.
2) Firefighting Projects can be divided into two categories. The first is wild land firefighting. Our trained inmates can currently fight any wild land fire inside the state of Wyoming and in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Firefighting activities can be provided to any State, County, or Federal agency.
The second category is controlled/prescribed burns. This includes management burning on state and federal lands. Inmates trained and utilized to fight fires are called “Smoke Busters”. This is a program that holds a lot of respect and pride in our community. It provides experience for the inmates that can carry over into a career upon their re-entry into society as well as gives them a sense of accomplishment while imprisoned.
3) Community Service Projects can be for any State, City or County agency. The work must not compete with private enterprises and should be of public benefit. These projects include general maintenance for city and county agencies; hazardous waste clean-up and living snow fence planting; and maintenance for conservation districts, etc.
4) Federal Projects can be for any federal agency. The State is reimbursed for all project costs including personnel, vehicles, equipment, and material.
The Forestry Program, when at capacity, can employ up to 63 inmates at the WHCC. The forestry work crews have been widely accepted in the local communities.
For the past 44 years, the Wyoming State Forestry Division and the Board of Charities and Reform (later incorporated into the Department of Corrections) have combined efforts and resources in the development and support of a Forestry Conservation Camp Program manned by inmates from a Wyoming Department of Corrections facility. Prior to the authorization of the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp by the legislature, the Wyoming State Forestry Division, in conjunction with the Board of Charities and Reforms, operated fire and conservation camps in the Black Hills area as early as the 1960’s. These camps were manned by a forestry technician, one correctional officer, and six inmates from the Wyoming State Penitentiary.
The 1986 Session Laws of Wyoming reflect the addition of "camps" to the definition of penal institutions. Chapter 65 relates to penitentiary camps, "authorizing the creation and operation of penitentiary camps to provide places of confinement and employment for persons committed to the state penitentiary."
The Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp was constructed on state land north of the town of Newcastle. The WHCC received its first funding in 1988. An appropriation of $311,850 was allocated and used for the purchase of modular buildings and site preparation. Site preparation continued through the summer of 1989. At that point, approximately 24 minimum custody inmates were transferred to Newcastle to begin reconstruction of the modular buildings that would become the kitchen/dining facility, inmate barracks, and offices.
Since this modest beginning, there has been substantial growth at the Wyoming Honor Conservation and Boot Camp facility. During the 2003-2004 sessions, the legislature made an appropriation of $6,326,204 for another expansion of the facility. Through these expansions, WHCC has grown into a prison containing three dorms, which house 238 minimum inmates, and a double fenced-in secure Boot Camp building which houses 56 inmates. Total facility capacity has grown from 24 inmates in 1989 to 294 inmates in 2008. WHCC now has a warehouse, as well as programming, vocational, recreational, and educational space, to allow us to meet the goal of reducing recidivism through cognitive and behavioral intervention.