August 18, 2015

Lawmakers consider changes to juvenile sex offender registry

8-18-15 Wyoming:

GILLETTE – The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee might sponsor a bill in 2016 that would require court hearings to evaluate the re-offense risk of children who are eligible for the juvenile sex offender registry.

Some Wyoming prosecutors are not charging children with the serious sexual crimes because they want to keep the juveniles off the registry, said Rep. Sam Krone, R-Cody. For example, a prosecutors might file a sexual battery charge, which is a lesser offense that does not require registration, instead of the more egregious sexual assault or sexual abuse.

Some parents also don’t report if one of their children has abused a sibling because they don’t want the perpetrator on the registry, Krone said.

With Wyoming’s juvenile sex offender registry, the names of juvenile sex offenders are not public, but neighbors are notified they are offenders. Juvenile sex offenders have to register for at least 10 years, depending on the crime, and most remain on the juvenile sex offender registry into early adulthood, Krone said.

The legislation Judiciary Committee members discussed Thursday and Friday at a meeting at Gillette College was drafted by Krone, a Park County prosecutor, but not introduced in the 2015 session. The bill would add sexual battery to the list of crimes eligible for juvenile sex offender registration.

But after a child is convicted, there would be a hearing in which a judge would assess the juvenile’s recidivism risk.

If the risk is low, juveniles may not end up on the registry. If the risk was higher, they would have to be on the registry.

Juveniles need to be charged with the appropriate crime. Otherwise, many don’t take responsibility for it, which is important for victims, said Teton Youth and Family Services Executive Director Bruce Burkland.

But the registry is harsh. Public knowledge that a child is a sex offender can isolate him and put him at risk for committing more crimes, Burkland said.

“When you’re home and registered as an offender, it’s certainly difficult to have healthy relationships in the community,” he said

Sixth District Court Judge of Gillette John Perry told committee members that some psychosexual evaluations are helpful and some are not. Evaluations cost $3,500, and many people cannot afford them.

“I’m not suggesting that the state pay for that,” he said. “That would be an industry in and of itself.” ..Source.. by Laura Hancock

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