Sheriff Lowell describes sex offender registration laws and procedures

(Rock Springs – Green River, Wyo. / November 23, 2017)     On Thursday, Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell addressed concerns expressed on social media regarding several aspects of the requirements and restrictions with which registered sex offenders must comply under state law. The concerns boiled down to these:

(A)   Is information about and are photographs of convicted sex offenders who are juveniles published on the Wyoming Sex Offender Registry website?

(B)  Are registered sex offenders – whose presence on school grounds is forbidden – permitted to drop off and pick up their own children at school?

Lowell first summarized the overall terms of Wyoming’s registered sex offender laws:

Sex offenders as defined in statute must be in compliance with state law by registering with the state Division of Criminal Investigation through local Sheriff’s Offices. Offenders are photographed and fingerprinted and must also provide a range of information, including address, place of employment, and vehicle information. They must notify authorities if they move or change jobs. Offender’s photographs and other information are then posted on the DCI website at http://wysors.dci.wyo.gov/sor/ . The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office website provides a link to the state’s registration pages.

There are about of 100 registered sex offenders living in Sweetwater County. (The figure fluctuates as offenders move out of the county and others move in.)  Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies conduct 8-10 monthly random compliance checks on offenders. If there is reason to believe an offender is noncompliant, that information is referred to the Sheriff’s Office Detective Division for further investigation and referral to the County Attorney’s Office.

County detectives also work in cooperation with the United States Marshals Service to conduct compliance checks with each of the county’s registered offenders.  During these compliance sweeps, county detectives and federal marshals team up and personally visit each offender, provide them with notification of their ongoing registration requirements and a copy of the sex offender registration act, and also verify the accuracy of information that the offender has registered. As always, if an offender is noncompliant, that information is referred to the County Attorney’s Office.

Lowell said that since early 2015, county detectives have filed 23 cases against offenders who have failed to register or are otherwise noncompliant, which is nearly double the number of cases filed in the three previous years. The majority of these have led to successful felony prosecutions and many prison sentences.

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Is information about and are photographs of convicted sex offenders who are juveniles published on the Wyoming Sex Offender Registry website?

If an offender was adjudicated as a juvenile, he or she may be required to register as a sex offender; however, no information may be published, including notification in the form of fliers being mailed out, until a separate risk assessment hearing is held.  If the juvenile is determined to be at a low risk of reoffending, no information may be made publicly available.  If the juvenile is determined to be at a high risk of re-offending, Wyoming law allows notification only of neighbors within 750 feet of the offender’s residence, schools, churches, and youth organizations. Hence, there is no guarantee that information about and photographs of juvenile offenders will be released; the determining factor is the outcome of risk assessment hearing.

Are registered sex offenders – whose presence on school grounds is forbidden – permitted to drop off and pick up their own children at school?

While Wyoming law does restrict a sex offender’s ability to live near and/or access school facilities, certain exceptions exist. Lowell said that a sex offender may not reside less than 1,000 feet from the property line of any school with an approved K-12 curriculum. The exception to this provision is that an offender residing less than 1,000 feet from a school prior to July 1, 2010 may continue to reside at that location.

A registered sex offender may not be on school property at times when children are present or within 30 minutes of a scheduled school activity, nor may they loiter within 1,000 feet of a school. Several exceptions to these provisions exist, however, including an offender who is a student at the school, a parent who is an offender transporting a child to or from school or attending an extracurricular event when school officials are present, an offender who is delivering food or mail on school property, or an offender who is voting in a public election.

Lowell encourages the community to review the Division of Criminal Investigation’s Wyoming Sex Offender Registry website at http://wysors.dci.wyo.gov to search for offenders in their community and to learn more about Wyoming’s sex offender laws.

Anyone with information regarding a noncompliant sex offender is urged to contact the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division at (307) 922-5296.

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