Missouri House Crosses Party Line Passing Sex Offender Bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri House of Representatives will cast a final vote on a sex offender bill on Thursday after giving initial approval to it Tuesday night.

The bill would greatly cut back the state's sex offender registry rolls. It would allow most sex offenders to petition to the court to have their names removed from the registry after 10 years. And for extreme crimes such as forcible rape, forcible sodomy or child molestation, the time before an offender could petition is 20 years.

The bill sponsor, Rodney Schad, R-Versailles, said he started considering about revising the registry three years ago when he received complaints from people on the registry and their famlies. He said many of these people commited crimes that are unrelated to sex, such as kidnapping. And according to the investigation he led, 95 percent of the sex offenders on the registry never reoffend.

Sharon Pace, D-Northwoods, a member on the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee, also agreed that removing people who are no longer a threat to the public could help them go back to work. She says sex crime victims need not to worry because local courts have to make efforts to verify if a person meets requirements to be removed. Information of offenders who are taken off the public database will remain in the system for further review.

Currently there are 12,000 people on Missouri's sex offender registry. Once passed, 5,000 people on the registry could petition for removal by 2013. Each year after, 1,000 registry more members could petition for removal.