Some sex offenders would be removed from the public registry under a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Missouri House that lays out more specifically what amounts to a sexual offense, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Republican state Rep. Rodney Schad, who sponsored the measure, told the newspaper that only about 5 percent of sex offenders commit new sex crimes and many people found guilty of public urination and other smaller offenses end up in the same category as pedophiles and child rapists.
He said many of them are people who are guilty of nothing more than being “young, dumb, and stupid.”
“So when we get on the [Missouri sex offender] website, we look and we see all these offenders living around us,” Schad said. “It has desensitized us to who the true dangers of society are. We want to go back to the original intent of this bill.”
According to the Post-Dispatch, Schad’s bill, which passed the House Wednesday with unanimous, bipartisan support, would remove offenders listed on the registry for such crimes as promoting obscenity, exposing oneself in public, or furnishing pornographic materials to minors. The measure now moves on to the Senate.
Supporters of the measure, including some Missouri prosecutors, say changes to the sexual-offender law could help current offenders listed on the registry for lesser crimes who have been harassed or have struggled to find jobs.
They say it would also ease the burden on law enforcement officials charged with keeping track of the 12,000 offenders currently listed on the state registry.
One study cited by the Post-Dispatch estimated that under Schad’s bill up to 5,000 people could be removed from the registry if it becomes law.
St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch told the Post-Dispatch that the existing sex offender law is unclear about what types of offenders should be put on the list and for how long.
“Over the years, things keep getting added and added, and it’s out of control,” said McCulloch, who heads the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
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