A bill in the Missouri House would exempt people convicted of non-contact offenses from having to register with the National Sex Offender Registry.
By Kylie Hennagin
The bill is sponsored by State Representative Rodney Schad, Republican of Versailles.
“Our laws have progressed over the years into a menage that put everyone ever convicted of a sex crime, no matter how small it was, to go onto the registry,” said Schad. The measure would exempt lower-level offenses like propositioning and indecent exposure.
But Emily van Schenkhof, deputy director of Missouri Kids First, urged caution when categorizing sex-crimes as serious or not.
“There are a variety of different sex offenses, some are more serious than others. But we need to be very careful about how we talk about that, because we don’t want to minimize sex offenses and the actual issues that are occurring," van Schenkhof said.
Van Schenkhof admitted the registry itself ultimately does not prevent sexual offenses.
Currently, Missouri has around 12,000 people on the National Sex Offender Registry. That number is much higher than in other states with similarly-sized populations: in Minnesota, for example, there are only 280 registered offenders.