A new organization seeks to give a voice to those formerly incarcerated
Cheyenne, WY – June 6, 2019
Wyoming-based criminal justice reform and reinvestment organization TReND Wyoming is holding community listening sessions across the state, with the goal to gather stories and help give a voice to those impacted by the system.
At a recent community listening session hosted by the organization in Gillette, the importance of increased community-based mental health services as an alternative to incarceration took center stage. Attendees heard a range of stories from individuals formerly incarcerated, their families, and community treatment professionals.
“Our criminal justice system is broken,” said TReND board member Jason Mittlieder. “People aren’t getting the help they need when they need it.”
“We want to hear from those who’ve been affected by the justice system, along with family members, and carry those stories and recommendations to legislators,” Mittlieder continued.
TReND Wyoming is hosting Community Listening Sessions in the following locations. Community members, friends and family, and formerly incarcerated individuals are encouraged to attend and participate.
June 8: Cheyenne, WY
Corner of Albany Ave. & E. 15th St
June 11: Casper, WY
Wyoming Rescue Mission
230 N Park Street
According to the organization’s website, Wyoming judges often feel that prison is the only viable option where treatment is available, despite community-based treatment being more effective. Jails and prisons often lack any treatment services at all, it says.
According to the organization’s representatives, one of TReND Wyoming’s goals is to expand community-based drug and mental health treatment access and funding across the state so that fewer people are needlessly spending time in jails and prisons.
“Legislators are only hearing one side of the story,” said board member Megan McGhee. “They need to hear from those directly effected by the system in order to make more informed decisions about the most effective options for treatment funding. The system isn’t going to change on its own without input from these individuals.”
The group cites a 2018 study published by Washington State Institute for Public Policy that found that every dollar invested in community-based drug treatment results in $13.43 in benefit to the local community.
TReND Wyoming is supported by volunteer professionals from the social work and mental health community, along with family and friends of individuals who’ve struggled upon reentry after incarceration.
The name “TReND” stands for “Treatment and Recovery, Not Detention.”
Additional community listening sessions are planned for Riverton and Evanston in the upcoming weeks.
TReND Wyoming is a coalition of people and groups from across the state of Wyoming led by people and families directly impacted by the criminal justice system who believe that working with offenders with mental health and/or substance use issues need to be front and center in the conversation about criminal justice reform and reinvestment. For more information, visit TReND Wyoming on the web at https://www.trendwyoming.org, or on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/trendwyoming/.
Contact: Jason Mittlieder