By Sandy . . . In 2015, a post was published on an advocacy blog detailing the many ways that various entities benefited from what the bloggist calls the sex offender industry. Those who benefited financially lead the list.
Wyoming, in need of funds to support its registry, has cleverly found a way to add to the list of those benefiting. All those newly registering on the Wyoming sex offender registry will have to pay a $150 fee for the privilege. This will also apply to visiting registrants from out of state who enter Wyoming and stay three business days. And then, when they are ready to leave, they must pay an additional fee, $31.25, to de-register.
Additionally, all registrants within the state must pay a $31.25 fee every time they report any change in status, such as a change of address, of employment, a new vehicle, or the addition of a tattoo.
According to the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, News, “A grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that supports Wyoming’s sex offender registry is dwindling. The new fees will replace the grant funding.”
The fee is split, with 75% going to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and the other 25% to the local authority.
An offender failing to pay the registration fee he can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to $750 in fines and six months in jail. A failure to report changes within three days is charged as a felony and punishable by up to $1,000 and five years in prison.
A provision is made for a wavier of the fees when a registrant is indigent. He must make application and complete a form proving his indigency, which must then be approved by the state.
Law enforcement in Jackson Hole fears that this financial burden will prevent some visiting registered citizens from registering in Wyoming.
In light of the recent ruling handed down in Pennsylvania, where certain portions of that state’s registration requirements were deemed to have crossed the line from regulatory into punishment, we can only hope that civil rights attorneys in Wyoming are watching this latest attempt to continue heaping consequence after consequence on the backs of a group of citizens who are already marginalized and vilified.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.