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UT: Request from registered sex offender to change taxi driver ordinance raises bigger questions

Source: 8/8/21

A local resident’s request to the Cedar City Council for an exemption to one of its ordinances has raised the question of when – or if – a convicted sex offender who has since served their time and been crime-free should be allowed to have the same freedoms to pursue a living as other citizens.

The issue first came up in May when Enoch resident Jamie Sherman spoke to the City Council during the public comment portion of the agenda.

Sherman told the council that he and his wife are seeking to open a taxi cab business in Cedar City, but he was unable to receive the necessary city permit because he has to register as a sex offender for an offense that occurred nearly 20 years ago. This registration is one of a variety of disqualifications listed under the taxi cab ordinance.

Since Sherman’s crime occurred in North Carolina, he would have to live in that state for 10 consecutive years and be crime-free in order to have the registry requirement lifted. While Sherman said he has indeed had a totally clean record since his conviction, he did not stay in North Carolina, so he is required to register as a sex offender in each state where he resides for the rest of his life – or until he returns to North Carolina and remains there for 10 years.

Sherman requested that the council look into his situation and see if there’s anything council members can do to help.

“The only thing I’m trying to do is provide a better life for my family and for myself,” he said.  “I was just wondering if there was any way that you could change the regulations for somebody like me so that I can drive a cab and provide for my family.”

At that point, the council decided to put the item on the agenda for the following meeting.

Jamie’s wife, Rona Sherman, appeared with him before the council at that meeting.

“We don’t want to change the ordinance,” she said. “We’d like you to just make an amendment.”

Referring to the North Carolina law, she said if someone hasn’t been in trouble in 10 years and hasn’t had any other problems, she believed the person deserved a second chance.

“It’s been 18 years for him with no issues,” she said of her husband. “Nothing going back to any problems, so we’re just asking for a fair chance.”

The Shermans suggested that maybe a probation could be enforced, where Jamie Sherman could get a permit for a period of time, see how it goes and then come back before the council. They also added that for safety purposes their cars have been fitted with cameras.

“We put a lot of effort into this,” Jamie Sherman said.

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