SPRINGFIELD, Mo. The number of people in Missouri’s sex offender registry could decrease as a new law allows non-violent sex offenders to petition to get off the list as of this week.
This is part of Senate Bill 655. It puts sex offenders in one of three categories: Level one, two and three, with three being the most severe.
Non-violent offenders in tier one and tier two can petition after 10 and 25 years… While violent offenders in the third tier will remain on the registry for life.
State Representative Kurt Bahr, the sponsor of this part of the bill, told Missourinet that the goal is to lessen the burden on law enforcement officials so they can spend more time focusing on tier-three offenders.
However, Brandi Bartel, the director of the victim center said that might not be the best idea from a victim’s standpoint.
It’s already a reality that a lot of victims cannot find any legal justice for themselves.
“So when a victim actually is able to find justice for themselves through the criminal justice system and everything works according to the way things are designed to be structured, then that means for victims they feel vindicated, validated, safer, and those are really important things to hold on to in order to move forward in life,” Bartel explained.
But when a victim hears that the offender has been taken off the sex offender registry, Bartel said, “that can strike real feelings of fear, and anxiety.”
Another part of the bill sponsored by Senator Scott Sifton removed the statute of limitations for sexual offenses against children of 18 or under.
“The unfortunate reality is in many cases when children are the victim of sexual abuse, they will wait years and in many cases decades to come forward,” Sifton explained, “we don’t want a legal technicality to exonerate somebody.”
The law was signed by the governor back in July and will go in effect Tuesday, along with over 100 other bills that were passed by the Missouri legislature earlier this year.