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Well, if you were planning a move or a summer vacation to Wyoming, you might want to think twice.
Registrants in Wyoming as well as those traveling through the state will now have to empty their wallets to fatten the state’s wallet. The state is calling their new sex offender registration requirement “a fee”, they say they need to “recoup” expenses incurred by having to track the comings and goings of registrants. The U.S. Dept of Justice had provided a grant to Wyoming for this purpose, but the grant is apparently dwindling and someone’s got to fill the coffers somehow.
But, this doesn’t sound like a “fee” to me.
According to the dictionary, a “fee” is either a charge, compensation or payment for something. (Registrants have already been charged, served their time, paid their dues, so this doesn’t really apply, does it?) A “fee” is also a sum charged for professional services, like a doctor’s fee. So this doesn’t really cut it either. A “fee” is also a sum charged for some privilege like a membership or an admission fee or a gratuity. Really, are they trying to say registrants are members of an exclusive club and need to pay for the right to join and then also “tip” those in charge?
Surely they must know this law will be challenged at some point.
State registration fees, at $150 a year, are bad enough, but now Wyoming plans to charge registrants an additional fee every time they change their address, their job, get a new car, a new tattoo or change their appearance. Those fees will be $31.25. Each!
A registrant who is a tourist in Wyoming must register if they are staying more than 3 days. That’s the $150 initial registration fee, so subtract $150 of your vacation money right now. And when you leave Wyoming, you have to “deregister” (not my word, theirs), which is a “life change”, so that’s another $31.50 out of your wallet. I guess this pays the salary of whoever has to pull your registration form out of a filing cabinet and file it in the trash can, since you are now leaving their state.
So far, just for visiting Wyoming for 4 days, it will cost a registrant $181.50 not to mention the vacation time you use up by having to go to the local pokey to register. Bad enough for those living there, but why would anyone want to bother vacationing there?
According to the law, a fee will be charged for each “life change” a registrant reports. Well now, as we all know from Obama Care, a “life change” could mean getting married, divorced, having a child, having someone else living in your home, going to prison, the list goes on.
So are these “life changes” going to cost registrants as well? Change your hair color, $31.50, grow a beard, $31.50, part your hair on the other side, $31.50! Is there a Master List of “life changes” that one must report or is it up to the registrant to guess what is and isn’t reportable?
Those who fail to register or ignore the fees could face misdemeanor charges of up to a $750 fine with possible 6 months jail time for failure to register and felony charges of up to $1,000 and 5 years in prison for failure to report changes. So, you get a higher fine and prison time for growing a mustache and not reporting it then you do for not registering at all. Does that even make sense?
According to Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen, the law just makes it more difficult to be able to manage effectively. He worries that offenders will be less willing to register. Gee, you think?
Here you have a law that is taking money out of the wallets of those who can least afford it, registrants who have a hard enough time trying to find a secure job and housing. Chances are, registrants “life changes” will happen more often than those of non-registrants. Housing will change, jobs will change, not through any fault of theirs, but because the registry has been set up to force those kinds of frequent changes. And you want registrants to continue to pay more and more fees?
I find it ironic that the one exception to the law is that those who are indigent and can’t pay, can apply for indigent status. They get a form mailed to them and get a reply within 30 days. Since the registry makes a lot of folks indigent and homeless, wonder exactly where those forms get mailed to?
There are 1,859 registrants in Wyoming, that doesn’t include those passing thru on vacations.
If each registrant is required to register once per year, that’s $278,850.00 collected in “fees”
If 1/4 of those registrants change their car once a year, that’s $14,639 in “fees”.
If 1/4 of those registrants got a new tattoo once a year, that’s $14,639 in “fees”.
If 1/4 of those registrants changed jobs once a year, that’s $14,639 in “fees” .
And if 1/4 of those registrants changed their address just once in a year, that’s another $14,639 in “fees”.
A grand total of $337,406.00 “fees” paid to the state of Wyoming in just one year, by registrants who have already served their time for their crimes.
Aside from registrants, what other offenders have these kinds of fees imposed on them?
These aren’t “fees”, this is continued punishment, after the fact.
Do away with the registry except for the violent criminals it was intended for and Wyoming wouldn’t have to worry about collecting fees to replenish their vanishing grant.
Wyoming’s state slogan is “The Equal Rights State”.
Guess they’ll have to change that now!
Registrants there don’t seem to have “Equal Rights.”