GILLETTE, Wyo. — A vote to decide whether to pass the first reading of an ordinance increasing penalties for shoplifting in the city will fall to the Gillette City Council on Tuesday.
The ordinance, first proposed by City Attorney Sean Brown during a previous council meeting on Sept. 13, would add 90 days of jail time as a possible punishment for anyone convicted of petite shoplifting within the City of Gillette.
Under the current city ordinance, shoplifting is punishable by a maximum of $750 in fines per offense, with no real deterrent to keep offenders from becoming repeat offenders.
According to Brown, shoplifting offenses in Gillette are on the rise and he sees some offenders on the court dockets with multiple shoplifting citations and multiple counts of failing to appear in court to answer for those offenses.
Adding jail time could be an effective deterrent if potential offenders knew they could go to jail for shoplifting, per Brown.
But adding a possible jail sentence would come with its own set of challenges. The municipal court would have to start having jury trials, which offenders would be entitled to, and that means more time in the courtroom for city police, the Campbell County Public Defender’s office, and the city prosecutor, according to Brown.
The council is expected to vote on the issue during their meeting on Oct. 4. If the first reading passes, it will need to pass two more consecutive readings in future meetings before the ordinance can take effect.