CHEYENNE — A Wyoming legislative committee on Monday defeated a bill that would have banned sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of child care facilities.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-to-2 against the bill sponsored by Rep. John Eklund, R-Cheyenne.
“The intention of this bill is to have the same protection for under school aged children that we do for school children,” Eklund said. He said there have been instances were sex offenders have moved in next to establish day-care facilities.
Steve Corsi, director of the Wyoming Department of Family Services, said his agency didn’t see any weaknesses with the bill.
However, Linda Burt, director of the ACLU in Wyoming, said that putting the bill’s proposed restrictions together with existing restrictions on sex offenders living near schools would drastically restrict where offenders could live in many communities.
Burt said offenders could find themselves segregated into low-income areas, or possibly left permitted to live only in more affluent areas where they couldn’t afford to stay.
Burt also said she regarded the bill as unnecessary, saying that statistically people who work at child care centers are more likely to abuse children in their care than others who happen to live in the neighborhood.
Joe Baron, prosecuting attorney in Crook County and spokesman for the state prosecutors association, said the bill didn’t go far enough. “It doesn’t say you can’t be within 1,000 feet,” he said. “It doesn’t say you can’t be in the building.”
Rep. Stephen Watt, R-Rock Springs, spoke against the bill. A former police officer, he has a problem with the state imposing continuing punishment on sex offenders after they’ve served their prison time.
“I wonder how long it will be before we address playgrounds, or any place kids hang out,” Watt said. “Pretty soon these people won’t be able to live anywhere at all.”