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Skateboarding is Not a Crime

Skateboarding is Not a Crime

Tuesday of this week, the Cheyenne City Council voted to replace an overreaching ordinance that criminalized skateboarding downtown.  One of many ordinances that lead to overcriminalization.

Overcriminalization is the result of thousands of petty, reactionary and mostly unnecessary laws interlaced with laws that make sense.  The bad laws create a web that can ensnare well-meaning citizens and label them criminals.

Cheyenne’s former skateboard ordinance is a prime example.  It came about mostly as a reaction to skateboarders causing some minor problems in the Depot Plaza during its construction.  Those problems and fears led to a broad ordinance capable of ensnaring peaceful citizens using alternative forms of transportation to and from work.  Violators could be punished with fines of up to $750 and up to six-months in jail for standing on a piece of wood with wheels.

Overcriminalization does more than just trap good people; it bogs down court systems already struggling with caseload management.  It also packs our jails with petty offenders guilty of things like being too poor to pay a ticket or thinking skateboarding to work is fun and economical.  It also cost taxpayers a small fortune to enforce all of the bad laws.

In Cheyenne, jail capacity is a serious issue.  We are paying close to $100 per day per prisoner and beds are nearly full.  It costs us so much money that the City is bussing offenders to neighboring counties where they can be housed for closer to $50 dollars per day.  We are also faced with the threat of expanding the jail.  A task that would require extensive resources in a time in which resources are thin.

Putting an end to overcriminalization would take community buy-in and a massive overhaul of city codes as well as state and federal law.  Decriminalizing responsible skateboarding won’t fully protect liberty or balance our budget but it only takes a snowball to start an avalanche.  For that, we commend Cheyenne City Council for working to ensure that we are using our resources wisely to deter and punish the right kinds of offenses and eliminate what is unnecessary.

Kudos to Councilmen Richard Johnson, Mark Rinne, and the entire Cheyenne City Council for identifying an unnecessary law and gutting its worst parts.  Removing the all-out ban on downtown skateboarding and the absurd punishments connected to it is a small, but good step toward fighting overcriminalization.

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Tuesday, 26 September 2017
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