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Missouri Sex Offenders Registry Too Broad? Fight At Capitol To Get Hundreds Off List

Categories: Crime, News

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Are some people in Missouri unfairly labeled sex offenders?

That's a question that came up at the legislature this session with a proposal that could have allowed hundreds of currently registered offenders to have their names taken off of state and county websites.

"If you're going to have a list and have people that aren't dangerous on there...it diminishes the effectiveness of the list," State Rep. Kevin Engler, a Republican, tells Daily RFT. "Citizens...are confused because of the broadness of the thing.... It's very difficult to discern who actually poses a danger."

Governor Jay Nixon, however, is not a fan of the proposed revisions.

On Wednesday, he announced that he was vetoing House Bill 301, Engler's bill aimed at rewriting parts of the laws regarding sexual offenses and sexually violent offenders.

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Governor Jay Nixon.

Nixon, a Democrat, says the legislation would essentially weaken laws on sexual offenders and would thus damage victims' rights and reduce public safety.

The tangible impact, his office says, is that hundreds of offenders would be removed from sexual-offender websites through a bill that "makes no distinction between those who have committed extremely serious or violent crimes and those who committed lesser offenses."

Nixon adds in a statement, "In addition to undermining the important public safety functions provided by the sexual offender registry and public notification websites, the bill also would have deprived victims of sex offenses the opportunity to be heard before an offender is removed."

The governor explains that HB 301 would have prevented individuals who committed a sex offense as a juvenile from being on state or county sexual-offender notification websites. That means about 560 people would have to be immediately removed from those sites -- regardless of the nature of their crime, whether they were convicted of forcible rape, forcible sodomy, child molestation, etc.

Part of his veto message says, full document below, says:

[The bill] does not strike the appropriate balance between providing this relief to a limited class of juvenile sex offenders and the need to ensure public safety. Instead, the bill would reverse the significant steps that Missouri has taken to protect the rights of victims and would undermine the important public safety functions provided by the sexual offender registry and public notification websites....

Engler says that another lawmaker brought forth the component of the bill that Nixon is referencing regarding changes to sex offender list requirements, but nonetheless says he agrees that change is needed.

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Rep. Kevin Engler.

"I would challenge [Nixon] to go ahead and acknowledge there is a problem," Engler says.

His argument is that certain offenses should not lead to a lifetime sex-offender label, such as a statutory case involving a consensual relationship between an eighteen-year-old and a sixteen-year-old.

Engler says there are real consequences to being on that list, and that it's not right for some of the most minor offenses for juveniles to be treated the same as the serious ones. "Some of those people are no danger," he says.

Here's the full bill, followed by the governor's veto message.

HB 301

HB 301 Veto 301veto

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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11 comments
Jon Cranmer
Jon Cranmer

I'm an idiot because your friend nailed a 16 year old girl? 16 yr old girls do lie. Had a roommate at SEMO, got thrown outta school there for the same thing. Maybe not a threat to children, unless you count other 16 year olds. I sure do.

Whit Movesian
Whit Movesian

Yes! Reform now! On top of the loose definitions, what about the "concerned citizens" out there that use the online registry as a shopping list. Sex offenders get murdered all the time. Granted, someone who touches a kid deserves it, but the adult who solicits prostitution doesn't. I have a friend on the list because he nailed a 16 year old girl who lied about her age, even in open court admitted to lying about her age. The state doesn't care, because they are a conviction machine funneling money into privatized prisons. They don't give 2 shits about rehabilitation. It's all just money. My friend is absolutely no danger to children whatsoever, so why doesn't he get to do Halloween? These laws are fucking retarded, initiated by politicians to spread fear and keep us looking to them for the answer. There are no "common sense" sex offender laws, and that is a problem, especially with such a sticky issue. The problem is, sex crimes make everyone uncomfortable, so they don't want to think about it. They rush through the law making process as quickly as possible so they can go back to playing monopoly with our tax dollars.

Gale O Kibby
Gale O Kibby

Bravo Missouri! As a former Sex Offender Therapist at Farmington, I agree that sex offenders have been painted with too broad a brush. For example, someone who drank to much, may not be thinking clearly, pees in a public space to relieve himself, becomes a sex offender FOR LIFE! Ridiculous! There should be some kind of grading system that allows a certain level of sex offender to get of the list. This designation pretty much takes away every opportunity to become self sufficient and, inevitably, give something positive back to society. It is hard enough to get a job as a felon and to add sex offender to the mix really cuts down the chance to make amends - even though this person has been released and is expected to provide for him/her self. Why wasn't Former Congressman Wiener charged with a sex crime ( sexting), which is a a crime In Many jurisdictions and upon being found guilty, carries the Sex Offender label - often for life! Thank you Gov Nixon for looking at this situation for which I'm sure many people think there should be no mercy shown. Most people equate sex offender as another word for pedophile. They couldn't be more wrong. They also equate sex offender with Stranger. Again, they couldn't be more wrong! I will be following this issue.

Jon Cranmer
Jon Cranmer

Fuck that! I don't care if you stopped to take a piss in the alley next to a school. You know what movie I'm talking about. If you're on the list you probably deserve to be.

Steve Dixon
Steve Dixon

This has been my problem with sex offender lists since they came about. Some of the things you can be put on the list for make the list useless.

sjjpsjjp
sjjpsjjp

To begin with I would like to point out that a citizen does not have to be convicted to be on the Missouri's Sex Offender Registry.

In addition, the Adam Walsh Act  is contrary to our State and Federal Constitutions, as well as, the Sex Offender Notification Act (SORNA) that the Feds use as their governing tool to illegally allow ex post facto/retroactive law as civil law punishable by criminal statute.  Is this not an ambiguous and obscure path taken by government to steal a persons freedoms?  

The United States Supreme Court rules that since SORNA is governed by civil law that sex offender registration is not punishment.  Many of us know this is not true!  Additionally, under SORNA governance, a citizens freedom of speech, where the citizen may or may not take up residence, where the citizen may or may not attend or travel are all freedoms guaranteed by our constitution. Wouldn't you think that after time served everyone should have their aforementioned rights without question?

Our Governor, Nixon, Attorney General, Koster, the Missouri Highway Patrol, and other uniformed legislators make it a point to circumvent a citizens rights under SORNA with their deliberate unconscionable authority by imposing their will on the sex offender, especially the youth of our state of Missouri.  Is this not shameful?

Vicki Henry, Shelly Stowe and Representative Kevin Engler are 100% accurate in their comments.  Our smug, self righteous Missouri Governor, Nixon's, remarks are inaccurate and he cannot substantially support his contentious statements nor can he support his lack of knowledge related to this issue with any studies, facts or figures.   

Our Governor seems to take pleasure in seeing that Missouri teenagers will live a lifetime of misery compounded by cruel and unusual punishment for making an error in judgement with often minor unbecoming subjective behavior known as intent; not kidnapping, molesting, raping or murder. Where is the fairness and compassion in all of this sex offender scarlet letter nonsense?  

Last but not least, there are many state supreme courts, judges and legislators who are in complete disagreement with Governor Nixon. 

Even a fool knows when he has been harmed and our Governor, Nixon, is not fooling many of us who he obviously thinks are fools.    

vicki.henry
vicki.henry

Once a person, including a juvenile, is adjudicated and paid their debt to society they should be able to go on with their lives and not be on a punitive public registry.  If I'm not mistaken the victim has the opportunity to speak at the trial assuming there is one and the defendant is not coerced into taking a plea deal so the courts don't get bogged down.  Studies by credible sources indicate an offense by a young person is a one-time occurrence and their lives should not be ruined because of it. The victims rights advocates have the ear of the governor hence, the young registrants don't have a chance to change their future till 2016. 

The governor and those in the House and Senate have been educated with facts based on studies and I am so glad some of those in the legislature are calling the governor out for vetoing this issue. 

One question I would like the governor to answer is what empirical evidence do you have to support your decision?

Even John Walsh (Adam Walsh Act) has said the registry is not being used as it was intended and all the non-violent registrants should be taken off and then the non-violent tracked and registered....sounds pretty clear to me.  

Patty Wetterling (Jacob Wetterling Act), in a recent interview with City Pages "questions sex offender laws!" 

Please Google and read "Raised on the Registry" by Nicole Pittman of Human Rights Watch.....

I would say I'm confused but it is about "money" since Missouri will lose 10% of the Byrne Fund Grant money that we got when we became SORNA compliant if juveniles are taken off. Simple as that but, the registry will not always be covered by that fund, then what.  

The governor is telling parents you can go on about your business we have your child's safety covered......seriously?  The Jerry Sandusky's of the world thank you for taking your eyes off your children. For those who don't know Jerry was NOT on any sex offender registry when it came to light what he was doing behind the walls of Penn State.  Ask the governor, who knows the recidivism rate for another sexual offense is around 5.3%, who is guaranteeing your child's safety with the other 95% of offenses which occur within the family, acquaintances and those having access to the children and hold him accountable for those.  

Vicki Henry

Women Against Registry dot com

shellystow
shellystow

It is clear that Gov. Nixon has done no research on this topic. If he had, he would know that removing people from the public registry will not result in "...undermining the important public safety functions provided by the sexual offender registry and public notification websites..." because there is no public safety function provided by the public registry and public notification.

He is fortunate to have legislators who know more about the actual issues than he does. He would be wise to listen to them.

fl9826024
fl9826024

The greater crime is having a registry at all.  The registry creates an utterly false sense of security since sex offender registries only list convicted sex offenders, not first-timers or the ones who haven't been caught yet. Relying on the registry to eradicate them to assuage concerns about sex offenders is outsourcing parental responsibilities to worthless data. The registry doesn't work and creating more Draconian legislation to punish or ostrasize them is going to create a greater social concern which the taxpayer will have to foot the bill for inevitably.   Not that the $600,000,000 per year they currently shell out is doing anything of value. 

shellystow
shellystow

Another danger in the public registry is that it generates articles that encourage comments like this one from individuals who lack both the vocabulary and the subject-matter knowledge to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful manner.

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