Registered sex offenders in Wyoming couldn't move into residences close to schools under a bill advancing in the state House of Representatives. The House gave preliminary approval Friday to House Bill 83, sponsored by Representative Steve Harshman, a Republican from Casper. His bill would bar offenders from moving into residences within 2,000 feet - or roughly a third of a mile - of schools that teach students age 18 or younger.
Some other lawmakers said the restrictions would leave offenders no place to live in smaller towns. ACLU state Executive Director Linda Burt notes that Wyoming last year cut funding for sex offender treatment programs in the prison system. She says treating offenders does more to protect children than imposing residency restrictions.
Also from Friday's session, the Senate Judiciary Committee has endorsed legislation establishing standards for determining how children will be held when picked up by police in Wyoming. The purpose of the bill is to try to steer more children away from jail. the committee amended the bill to have sheriffs design a uniform assessment tool and to require sheriffs to provide statistics to the Department of Family Services.
The bill has the support of child advocacy groups, as well as law enforcement. With the unanimous "do-pass" recommendation Friday from the Senate committee, the bill moves to the full Senate. House Bill 12 has already passed the House.