A letter of criticism to Jordan Riak from Wyoming Representative Ann Robinson and Riak's reply

March 22, 2002


I sent a message to you regarding this legislation a few days ago. I have received no response from you relating to that message. I explained to you that the language in the legislation recently passed is not adding language that is not already in Wyoming statute. I also told you that I am willing to try to remove that language from those places where it appears in Wyoming statute.

Your message saying that "Governor Geringer of Wyoming has signed legislation making Wyoming a safe place for child abusers/bruisers" is misleading, when you are aware that the language is currently in statute and the recent bill does not change what is in current statute. As I explained to you in my previous message, if Governor Geringer had vetoed the bill, the language would still remain in the statutes.

I appreciate and share your concern for children. I also believe that, in order to maintain credibility, you must disclose the facts as they come to you.

Representative Ann Robinson

March 25, 2002

Dear Representative Ann Robinson,

Thank you for your bringing this matter to my attention. I've read your letters, and in the spirit of your closing suggestion that I maintain my credibility and disclose facts as they come to me, I have decided to share our correspondence with Project NoSpank readers.

When I first saw Paragraph B in "ORIGINAL SENATE FILE NO. 0074, ENROLLED ACT NO. 46" sent me by a colleague, "death or" was crossed out, indicating its removal, and the exclusionary language about skin bruising: "if greater in magnitude than minor bruising associated with reasonable corporal punishment" was printed in red and underlined indicating it had been added. On 3/14/02, an AP article, "Bills on nursing homes, water, child abuse sent to governor," in the Star Tribune reported "The House added language that said causing 'minor bruising associated with reasonable corporal punishment,' is not a punishable offense. The Senate accepted the amendment and sent the bill to the governor." That was my information and I didn't hesitate to broadcast it to Project NoSpank readers.

Now I learn from you that the same language already existed elsewhere in the statute books. You seem to be implying that my sense of urgency and accusatory tone is therefore misguided. I don't think so. This latest drafting isn't innocent and benign. It is a reaffirmation of a pre-existing bad idea. It seems to me the legislature missed two opportunities to fix the problem, and therefore knowingly assents to abusive acts against children in their state. I don't think there is any way in which this official nod of approval (two nods of approval!) to child bruisers can be interpreted that mitigates its outrageousness or exempts Wyoming legislators from moral responsibility. Such cavalier indifference to child safety warrants the widest possible public exposure and condemnation.

I am pleased that you intend to attempt to remove the objectionable language about bruising children. I hope you succeed. But please don't stop with half measures. You should work to remove all references to child battering, thus giving the children of Wyoming the same statutory safeguards to bodily integrity that apply to every other class of citizen. This reform is inevitable. The scientific community is solidly in favor of it and the rest of the civilized world is rapidly moving in that direction. So why not start here with Wyoming?

I was about to hit the send button on this e-mail when I learned that the Fiji High Court has just banned corporal punishment saying it's a breach of the Constitution. That's illuminating.

Jordan Riak

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