Does Idaho Need to do Something About the Yellowstone ‘Zone of Death’
When I moved to Idaho and learned about the Yellowstone 'Zone of Death' or 'Murder Zone', I thought it was just a very Idaho-sounding fable. Why wouldn't there be a strip of land in Idaho where you can legally get away with murder like you were still living in the wild west or in an actual episode of 'Yellowstone'? I didn't know much about Idaho so it made sense to me.
What Is The Yellowstone Zone Of Death
If you have never heard of the Zone of Death and you were to search for it online, you’d be in for a disturbing surprise. The entry for this 50-mile strip of land on the eastern border of Idaho on Wikipedia states:
…part of Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. state of Idaho in which, as a result of a purported loophole in the Constitution of the United States, a criminal could theoretically avoid conviction for any major crime, up to and including murder.
What Is The Idaho Zone Of Death Loophole
The loophole with the ‘Zone of Death’ is due to the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. If a citizen commits a crime that requires a jury, then that trial has to happen in the area where the crime happened by a jury of residents of that area. There are no residents in the Zone of Death, making a trial by jury impossible.
What Is Happening With The Yellowstone Zone of Death
Obviously, that loophole is a pretty big issue and Idaho lawmakers are looking to finally correct the problem. In a recent memorial in the House of Representatives, the following was presented:
…the Legislature calls upon Congress to close this potential legal loophole by amending United States Code and placing the portion of Yellowstone National Park located in Idaho under the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the District of Idaho while maintaining the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit as the proper venue for all administrative appeals concerning Yellowstone.
How Many Crimes Have Happened In The Zone Of Death
While the loophole makes the Zone of Death seem like it would be the perfect place for crimes to happen, Rep. Colin Nash who presented the idea told the committee that he’s not aware of any crimes in the area that have gone unprosecuted. The Idaho Statesman reports that Nash had heard about the Zone of Death in law school and recent disappearances near the area have kindled the conversation.
Even though Idaho has a Zone of Death, it is still a pretty awesome place to live: