Sheriff: Increase in drug activity and violent crimes contributing to rising female inmate population

(Lander, Wyo.) – Nearly every month when Fremont County Sheriff Skip Hornecker gives his report to the Fremont County Commission, he notes the relatively high number of female inmates at the Detention Center.

As of 1 p.m. on Monday, the Detention had custody of 44 women out of a total roster of 162. A month ago there were 33 women out of 135 total inmates. Commission Chairman Doug Thompson noted that when the detention center was designed, it was only meant to house 16 women.

Hornecker said the rising number of female inmates is not just a localized problem. The increase is being discussed on a national level among various sheriffs associations. “Country-wide we’re seeing this,” he said, adding that it is not longer an anomaly.

When asked what was contributing to more female inmates, Hornecker said more woman are being caught involved in drug activity than forecasted when the detention center was built. Additionally, violent crime has increased across the board, and that is also contributing to the rise in the female population.

Overall the detention center’s average daily population decreased in May to total 125 in-house, compared to April’s average of 138. However, Hornecker said June is beginning to trend upward again.

Both the detention center and the communications departments lost personnel to resignations in the last couple months, and Hornecker said efforts are under way to refill those positions.

The patrol units are fully staffed and very active, the sheriff said. He said he was proud of the investigative efforts shown by his officers as of late.

Last year’s search and rescue costs were significantly decreased in 2013 compared to other years, Hornecker said, adding that he hopes he hasn’t jinxed himself. The Wyoming Search & Rescue Council reimbursed $8,468 in costs for last year’s missions, and another $11,000 was reimbursed with Title 3 funds.