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State Briefs


May 2, 2019

Wyoming prison population third-fastest growing in country

CASPER (WNE) — Wyoming’s prison population was the third-fastest growing in the country at the end of 2017, according to a government report released last week. 

The report, which was authored by two U.S. Department of Justice statisticians and released Thursday, states that Wyoming’s prison population grew by 4.2 percent between the year-ends of 2016 and 2017. The Cowboy State was outpaced only by Utah, where the incarceration rate grew by 4.3 percent, and Idaho, where the rate grew by 5.1 percent. The three states topping the list were also the only Mountain West states with notable increases. 

The report indicates the continuation of a trend a 2018 Star-Tribune analysis noted began more than a decade ago — Wyoming prison population rates as a percentage of the state’s total population grow while national numbers drop. Nationwide, 390 per 100,000 people were locked in state prisons by the end of 2017 across the country. That number was down 7 from the year prior. 

In Wyoming, however, 429 people per 100,000 were in corrections department custody at year’s end, up more than 20 per 100,000 compared to the prior year. 

Because the report analyzes prison populations on the basis of supervising authority, rather than physical location, Wyoming Department of Corrections prisoners held in a Mississippi private prison for space reasons, are included in the total the report attributes to Wyoming. 

The report indicates Wyoming’s prison population increase was the result of both an increase in newly incarcerated people and a decrease in people released from prison.

UW to give up to $1 million to Clean Coal Technologies

GILLETTE (WNE) — The University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources has awarded up to $1 million to Clean Coal Technologies Inc. to help the company develop technology to commercialize its product.

Clean Coal Technologies uses patented technology to convert run of mine coal into a cleaner-burning and more efficient stabilized solid fuel.

Earlier this year, UW researchers independently verified the performance of CCTI’s technology. The outcome from this milestone identified performance improvement areas that are being designed and incorporated into the next stage of field testing scheduled to start in Wyoming.

UW will give Clean Coal a matching grant of up to $1 million. The first $500,000 will be available in May, said Clean Coal CEO Robin Eves. The money has been earmarked for the company’s second-generation test facility, which will be located in Gillette.

‘’Our partnership with the University and the state of Wyoming will ensure that the test facility will be ready to commence testing of coal and will help our company move to commercialization in an expedited manner,” Eves said.

“This second generation plant will include process and engineering enhancements that the university’s simulated modeling study and experimental program advocated,” he said. “We fully expect it will further increase the plant’s performance and efficiency and will reduce the overall cost of a commercial unit.

“Furthermore, the University’s work has informed and quantified the potential of manufacturing valuable byproducts as a consequence of the coal-beneficiation process.’’

Man convicted in 2016 murder seeks new trial

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — A Utah man in the Wyoming State Penitentiary serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder has petitioned for a new trial claiming ineffective assistance of counsel.

Bradley Ross Fairbourn, 21, of Draper, Utah, has filed for a Rule 21 hearing to consider his contention of ineffective counsel. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. on May 8 in Sweetwater County 3rd District Court.

Fairbourn was found guilty in February 2018 of the June 2016 fatal stabbing of Naisha Rae Story and seriously injuring Linda Natalia Arce. He was subsequently sentenced in May of that year to two concurrent life sentences by Sweetwater County 3rd District Court Judge Richard Lavery.

Fairbourn continued throughout sentencing to claim he was innocent of the crimes.

Fairbourn contends ineffective counsel on the grounds that his defense attorney knowingly relied on inadmissible hearsay to introduce his case, did not peremptorily strike or ask follow-up questions regarding a potential juror’s attorney/client relationship with the state’s lead attorney, inappropriately asked law enforcement witnesses their opinion about the guilt or innocence of the defendant or the credibility of other witnesses, and failed to object to any inadmissible hearsay evidence at trial.


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