CHEYENNE — Gov. Matt Mead has granted his first commutation of a prison sentence since he took office two years ago.
Mead had denied every previous commutation recommended by the Wyoming Board of Parole — a total of 17 cases since 2011.
Mead commuted the sentence of Joe Welch, an Alaska man who last year was picked up for escape and extradited to Wyoming.
Welch was convicted of felony burglary in Wyoming in 1980 and sentenced to up to five years in prison. Welch says he walked away from alcohol abuse treatment at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston amid bureaucratic uncertainty over whether he was supposed to be there or in prison.
Welch tells the Casper Star-Tribune that getting arrested 31 years later cost him his job and his house.