Sex in the Cowboy State

|

For the sex offender on the move, Wyoming is looking pretty sweet right now:

"We don't want to become the playground for sex offenders," Attorney General Pat Crank said. "But there must be something that sex offenders are seeing. Otherwise they wouldn't be moving here in the kind of numbers that we seem to be seeing."

Wyoming is home to about 1,200 known sex offenders. That is not a large number for such a sparsely populated state. But law enforcement officials and legislators are worried because 56 percent of those offenders moved to Wyoming after being convicted somewhere else.

States and cities with onerous residency requirements (such as massive zones that exclude listed offenders) are pushing offenders into other localities. But Wyoming, late to the sex zone arms race, won't be a playground for long:

Wyoming lawmakers are pushing at least six different bills this session that aim to make Wyoming a less-welcoming place for convicted sex offenders.

Reason argues against sex-panic-inspired zoning, invites hatemail, here and here.

NEXT: Dodgeball: So Unoriginal Anyone Could Have Written It

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. First ‘Brokeback’ now this? I can’t help but feel the Cheneys are involved somehow.

  2. Now even the sheep have a new enemy. First it was the introduction of wolves, now it’s the introduction of wolves in men’s clothing.

  3. How about a lunar base for sex offenders (see thread below), since they’re being zoned off of planet earth?

  4. Have a safe trip, and be sure and send us a postcard, Warren.

  5. Waitasec, maybe I am confusing “sex offender” with “sexually offensive”. My bad. ūüôā

  6. Instead of playing this zero-sum game of shuffling them around the country, why aren’t we just locking them up, and throwing away the key? One strike you’re out. That must be where this is headed, right?

  7. Why not just use the death penalty. It is a usefull crime tool.

  8. “smacky | February 23, 2007, 1:52pm | #
    Have a safe trip, and be sure and send us a postcard, Warren.

    smacky | February 23, 2007, 1:59pm | #
    Waitasec, maybe I am confusing “sex offender” with “sexually offensive”. My bad. :)”

    *blink*

  9. Wyoming has more places that are more than 1000 feet away from schools, etc than any other state in the lower 48.

    I don’t think any other explanation is necessary.

  10. Wyoming has more places that are more than 1000 feet away from schools, etc than any other state in the lower 48.

    Yeah, that’s undoubtedly it, plus the state’s traditional “mind your business and I’ll mind mine” culture.

  11. Wyoming has more places that are more than 1000 feet away from schools, etc than any other state in the lower 48.

    And it’s fairly easy to watch all seven Wyoming children.

  12. Three problems:

    (a) The “enormously elastic definition of sex offender,” as one of the linked articles puts it. There should be a class of “serious sex offender” that leaves out most of those who committed their crime in their teens, or who are currently in nursing homes, etc. The serious category should be the one targeted.

    (b) The lack of prison space for sex offenders, due to the drug war.

    (c) The retroactive nature of this legislation — how can this *not* be unconstitutional ex post facto legislation? Given that most criminal charges are resolved by plea bargain, the possibility of additional punishments down the road throws a wrench in the gears. At the very least, if the legislature chooses to retroactively ratchet up penalties, those who made plea bargains should have the chance to revoke their plea, because they didn’t sign up for the extra punishment.

  13. (c) The retroactive nature of this legislation — how can this *not* be unconstitutional ex post facto legislation? Given that most criminal charges are resolved by plea bargain, the possibility of additional punishments down the road throws a wrench in the gears. At the very least, if the legislature chooses to retroactively ratchet up penalties, those who made plea bargains should have the chance to revoke their plea, because they didn’t sign up for the extra punishment.

    The same way the Lautenberg Amendment retroactively prohibited firearm ownership by anyone ever convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor. Even if, decades ago when it was necessary, you pled no contest to a charge to qualify for a divorce. Lots of cops and soldiers lost their careers over that one.

    But that’s just another slippery slope argument.

  14. I think the way it works is, it’s considered a public health measure. The sex offender is not being punished, but quarantined, as would someone with a communicable disease. It’s predicated on the idea that the sex offender, in addition to committing punishable offense(s), which punishment may be discharged after a period of time, has an immanent disease condition which others of certain classes may “catch”. Hence the stories about victims of child sexual abuse or rape becoming child sexual abusers or rapists themselves.

    The fact that such measures may not have been contemplated at the time of the conviction of the sex offender is irrelevant because they are not punishment, but supposedly scientific facts which were discovered later. It is possible that sex offenders would, however, be due compensation for their loss of liberty; but they probably wouldn’t get it, their sex offender status making them a “nuisance” and hence uncompensable.

    IANAL.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.