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Sex offenders' wives rap bill

10-3-2007 Wyoming:

CHEYENNE -- Some wives of convicted sex offenders say they are disappointed that the House and Senate have approved legislation that would require all convicted sex offenders to be listed in an online public database, regardless of risk of reoffense.

Currently people convicted of aggravated sex offenses must participate in risk assessment hearings to determine whether they pose a low, medium or high risk of reoffense. Only those who are deemed "high risk" are listed on the Internet.

The House and Senate on Tuesday both endorsed changing the sex offender registration policies to eliminate risk assessment hearings and list all offenders online.

"They've passed some good legislation this year banning open containers from vehicles, but they're also passing some real stinkers," Faith Wicks, wife of convicted sex offender Mike Wicks, said Wednesday.

Mike Wicks, who had sex in 1991 and 1992 with teenage girls under 18, is not deemed a high risk of reoffense, so his sex offender status is not currently in the state Internet database.

"I e-mailed every senator and representative and I didn't get a lot of responses," said Faith Wicks, of Powell. "I understand they need to listen to people in their constituencies, but maybe not all these people have as much of a stake in it."
She said she worries about her family's safety, as the legislation would require any vehicles used by her husband to be listed in the database.

"I'm concerned some drunk yahoo will run me off the road," Wicks said. "They'll see one of our vehicles on the sex offender Web site, and run me off the road."

Cheyenne resident Gina Smith, wife of convicted sex offender Gary Smith, who is also not deemed a high risk of reoffense, agrees.

"I think they're making a really big mistake," Smith said. "If they categorize and publicize my husband, who is extremely low-risk, I think they're putting our children in danger and they're putting me in danger."

"Only time will tell. If anything does happen to any of us, the state is going to be hit with a huge lawsuit from me," Smith said. "I bet this bill will cause more offenders to be noncompliant with registration. I hope the governor thinks this through before he signs this."
Gov. Dave Freudenthal said he is "quite prepared to sign" the sex offender registration measure.

"We've been pushing for several years to get stricter penalties for sex offenders and pedophiles," Freudenthal said.

"I'm glad that (the Legislature has) done what they've done. I also believe that it is appropriate to list all sex offenders on there."

Information provided by Bob Brackett, manager of the state sex offender registry program, shows about one in four sex offenders in the state has not had a risk assessment hearing. Brackett, Attorney General Pat Crank and legislators said they were concerned because if hearings aren't held, then some high-risk sex offenders may not be put in the online database.

The bill would eliminate the risk assessment process because of its perceived inefficiency. Instead, it would require all sex offenders, regardless of risk of reoffense, to be listed in the online database, with the offender's license plate number and a list of their offenses accessible to the public.

"With laws like this, no one is going to be allowed to reform," Faith Wicks said. "Every law they've passed since 1996 on has applied to my husband, even though he was done with his probation and parole in November 1996."

"My husband made two mistakes years ago," Wicks said. "I didn't realize that was a life sentence."

If Freudenthal signs the bill, the new registration policies will become law. ..more.. by Kathleen Miller

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