Lawmakers in Missouri are considering making significant changes to the state’s sex offender registry. We hope that any changes they make will aim to further protect children, and not convicted adults.
Among the changes, lawmakers are considering adding “levels” to the registry. While this is a good idea in theory, in reality prosecutors will often allow plea deals for lesser sentences in order to spare victims the pain of a trial. We fear this will lead to less protection for kids.
Another provision is the ability for offenders to petition to have their name removed from the list, dependent on a “risk assessment” done by mental health professionals. Again, this is a good idea in theory, but institutions like the Catholic Church have shown us that a psychiatrist who is friendly to a predator can give him a favorable review, allowing that person to potentially victimize more children.
The state also complains of the burden of maintaining the registry. Yet the burden of keeping an online database up to date is far less than the burden of knowing that another child was able to be abused because of policy changes.
It is true that there may be injustices involving hundreds of convicted adults In Missouri. However, there are far more crimes - devastating crimes - against thousands of innocent Missouri kids. We hope that lawmakers spend more time and energy on the latter than the former.
Very few predators are arrested. Even fewer are convicted and put on the registry. We feel that lawmakers should focus on making it easier for victims to come forward by reforming archaic predator friendly laws rather than “tweaking” who is named on the registry.