Some judges in Wyoming and around the country may be influenced in their decision-making by unconscious bias. According to some neuroscience research, people sometimes make decisions under the influence of unconscious assumptions or biases that they might consciously reject. Research has also shown that in the courtroom, judges often make decisions based on intuition rather than rationality. This can lead to defendants from groups who often face discrimination, such as black or gay people, receiving harsher treatment.
Prosecutors in Wyoming and around the country are required to turn potentially exculpatory evidence and information over to criminal defendants and their attorneys, but may civil rights advocacy groups say that new laws are required to clarify the protections provided by the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brady v. Maryland. One of the most contentious Brady issues is the value and admissibility of testimony provided by jailhouse informants who often lie to secure reduced sentences or preferential treatment.
Incarceration rates in Wyoming and other states have been steadily declining following a peak in 2009. Since this time, many municipalities and jurisdictions have been offering alternative sentences for low-level offenses. There have also been reforms with certain police procedures, and some minor offenses have been decriminalized. Such efforts have resulted in a noticeable reduction in incarceration rates in the United States. In 2018, the FIRST STEP Act, which reduces sentences for non-violent offenses, was signed into law.
Residents in Afton, Wyoming are usually sentenced to about a year in jail if they are found to be in possession of marijuana. For each additional charge in the future, the length of time in jail increases as well as the fines that the person has to pay. Aside from a few states where selling and using marijuana is legal, it's still a crime in Wyoming. Jim Byrd is a sponsor and also a member of the democratic party who wants to see some of the marijuana laws in the state changed.