Being on Missouri's Sex Offender Registry is no proverbial walk in the park.
In fact, it is a lifelong burden that challenges registrants in an almost unimaginable way. We note on our criminal defense website at the St. Louis law firm of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry that Missouri's registry law is among the toughest in the country. If you're required to register, doing so "will have a significant and negative impact on your life as well as the lives of your loved ones." Indeed, inclusion on the registry can curtail an individual's choices regarding where to live, freedom of movement, employment opportunities and more.
That harshness has been widely stressed by critics across the state, who note two key factors concerning current registry law.
The first is its draconian consequences for even low-level offenders, who are indiscriminately grouped together with high-risk individuals on the list and subject to the same enduring inclusion on it. The basic unfairness of that has long been noted and criticized as fundamentally unfair. Legions of people who oppose the "everyone lumped together" focus of the law point to its denial of a second chance to individuals who are unlikely to ever become repeat offenders.
The second point, made by a state legislator who has authored a Senate bill that materially amends the existing legislation, is this: Denying lowest-risk offenders a chance to ever get off the list defeats its very purpose. The goal of the registry has always been to promote public safety. That is undermined when law enforcers are so tied up with bureaucratic requirements concerning low-level registrants that they can't properly focus on more serious offenders, says State Rep. Kurt Bahr (R-St. Charles).
Senate Bill 655 is about to change the status quo in a big way when it takes legal effect next week on August 28. We will spotlight that legislation in our next blog post.