For immediate release: August 26, 2013
Statement by Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director, 314-862-7688 SNAPdorris@gmail.com
Missouri lawmakers want to suddenly remove hundreds of names of convicted criminals from the state sex offender registry. We oppose this move.
When pondering changes to the sex offender registry, there should be only one criterion: will the proposed change protect more children? And in this case, it’s just too early to tell. So we in SNAP favor keeping the registry unchanged until independent scientific research clearly shows a need to change it.
Remember: Studies suggest that between 8% and 12% of kids will be sexually assaulted. (According to Darkness to Light, “there will be 400,000 babies born in the US this year that will be sexually abused before they turn 18 if we do not prevent it.”) We must put the well-being of thousands of children ahead of the inconvenience of dozens of offenders.
Decision-makers are adults. Most of them were never molested. So they naturally and instinctively sympathize with other adults. That sympathy leads some lawmakers to give some who have hurt kids a break.
But sympathies alone don’t make good public policy. We must examine both our feelings and the facts. And the facts tell us we should err on the side of safeguarding children.
It’s very sad when someone who has committed a crime is excessively punished. It’s even sadder, however, when someone who is innocent is victimized needlessly. Taking offenders’ names off the registry could easily lead to more assaults against children. We should think long and hard before making that kind of change.
Who’s on the sex offender registry should be based on likelihood of re-offense, not on some arbitrary age.