By Ron Lee
Our Republic has changed from a land offering liberty and valuing freedom to a country that oppresses and values money above all else, even justice. It used to be if you committed a non-felonious crime your punishment ended at the border of whatever state the crime was committed within – not that you could escape your punishment, just that it wouldn’t follow you or hinder you being a law-abiding citizen of another state.
For instance, take the case of Scott Winegarden. He is an avid hunter who was charged multiple times in Washington state for various hunting related infractions. Winegarden maintains that he was innocent of all of the charges but chose to pay the fines as the cost of these were far less than the costs associated with fighting the reportedly drummed-up infractions and were far more than he could afford.
Thinking that his “punishment” would end with payment-in-full, he was shocked to learn that the misdemeanor offenses were cumulative in the eyes of the administrative agency known as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). As such, his hunting and fishing “privileges” (a word now often used to describe our past liberties) became suspended and then revoked for life.
So, Washington’s punishment for the crimes of which he was charged became a life sentence of no longer enjoying the multi-generational tradition of providing food for his family. That punishment stands today. He can no longer hunt in Washington, ever.
As time went on Winegarden found himself needing to find employment. That search lead him to a job in Oregon, where he soon took up residency with his family.
After a short time, Winegarden applied for and was granted an Oregon hunting license. With several seasons of hunting without there ever being a question that he was following Oregon hunting laws, he was given notice by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) that his “privileges” were being suspended for life. Their reasoning was that a WDFW officer contacted an ODFW office and told them of Winegarden’s Washington revocation. See, Oregon offers reciprocity with Washington.
Here is a man who was reportedly charged with false crimes, accepted punishment and honored his obligations and then is stripped
of his rights completely.
Where is the freedom to pursuit life and liberty when you are never forgiven or at best never allowed the opportunity to start anew in some other state?
Currently 36 states offer reciprocity through the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact and I firmly believe all of them have violated the Constitution in doing so. First, they violate Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution which states, [emphasis added]:
“No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”
I believe that reciprocal punishment also violates the 5th Amendment’s protection of, “…nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Clearly you are being held subject to the same offense from another state.
It also violates the 8th Amendment’s protection of, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Isn’t it cruel and unusual punishment to never allow a citizen to follow a law abiding path?
Obviously, there are serial crimes that warrant the protection of reciprocity, but these are felonious crimes; murder, rape, sex-abuse, etc.
I personally believe a state should only apply misdemeanor reciprocity when a citizen breaks the law within their state. Anyone who had broken the law in another state would have one chance and if they couldn’t live in a law-abiding manner, only then the other state’s records would be taken into account.
The fact is, you can not have a sovereign state if you impose the laws of another state’s on your citizens. Your citizens deserve the ability to live free from unwarranted persecution.
Reciprocity is just a life sentence, cruel and unusual, and leaves no room for the people to ever be free to exercise, what the Declaration of Independence called, the pursuit of happiness. If you are never forgiven, or at least allowed the opportunity to start over, you are a prisoner – there can be no happiness in that.
Please join me in contacting ODFW to have Mr. Scott Winegarden’s hunting rights returned, and shoot-down any efforts by a state to impose it’s laws on the law-abiding citizens of another. Failure to act will lead us further down the path of an all controlling police state.
Remember, they aren’t the king’s lands, they are the people’s, and it is high-time we remind them of that fact.
ODFW may be reached by calling (503) 947-6044 or by
You can read more about Scott Winegarden by going to www.usobserver.com and searching for Winegarden from the Yahoo search on the left of the page.