Legislator Wants to Close Sex Offender Law Loophole
By: CJ Cassidy
In some cases, current law can actually make it harder for you to keep tabs on sex offenders in your neighborhood.
But Missouri Senator Kit Bond wants to change that.
Senator Bond just introduced a new federal law that would make all sex offenders register with local sheriff's departments regardless of when they committed their crimes.
The Senator says a loophole in the current law allows certain offenders to go free, if they committed crimes before 1995.
In fact, some judges in Missouri have let offenders out of prison, because of the how they're interpreting the law.
Still, it doesn't look like the proposed federal law would change things in the Show Me State, unless the Missouri Constitution's amended.
Cape Girardeau County Prosecutor Morley Swingle's pushing for that, but not everyone's thrilled about the proposed changes.
"I served time," convicted Missouri sex offender Ramona Rainwater said.
She found herself in trouble back in 1981.
She still maintains her innocence after all these years, but she's thankful a Missouri Supreme Court ruling back in 2006, exempted her from having to register with the county.
The ruling said anyone convicted of a sex crime prior to 1995 did not have to register.
"When we looked at our registered sex offenders in our county back in September, we had about 120 registered offenders and 47 committed acts prior to 1995. When when you consider we have about 118 counties in Missouri, that's a lot of sex offenders who don't have to register," Swingle said.
So as senators push to change federal laws, Swingle hopes legislators consider going through the books and amending the Missouri Constitution first.
Otherwise, Swingle points out, sex offenders in Missouri would still slip through the cracks.
"Whether they committed a sex crime that happened before 1995 or after 1995, they're just as dangerous to children in the community as someone who committed a crime a year or two ago," he said.
Ramona Rainwater agrees some sex offenders should be kept under surveillance all the time, but she points out offenders like herself should get a chance to move on with their lives.
"It doesn't keep you from getting in your car going outside premises. I don't understand why we had the law to begin with," she said.
Voters would have to decide before the state constitution could be amended, but first it needs to be on the ballot.