A law taking effect this week is expected to reduce the number of people on Missouri’s sex offender registry. The changes will place offenders in one of three categories, depending on the severity of the crime committed. The law will also allow non-violent sex offenders to petition to get off the list after ten years and offenders on the second tier could ask to be removed after 25 years.

Sheriff Randee Kaiser of southwest Missouri’s Jasper County says the results may not be favorable.

“As a concern for the community, if you’re the kind of individual who likes to know the neighborhood you live in and the people that are around you and where some potential risks are for your kids, I don’t think the community will be as well informed as they were previously,” he tells Missourinet affiliate KZRG in Joplin.
The individuals on the list must petition the court in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. The violent offenders on the third tier will remain on the registry for their lifetime.

Missouri has about 19,300 sex offenders on the registry. More than 350 registered sex offenders live in Jasper County. The process of going through the list and placing offenders in the appropriate tier will be a tedious one.

“When an individual come in with an offense, we have to put them in a tier and register them accordingly,” he says.

Kaiser says all tiers are still required to report, and that failure to do so will still result in additional charges. Under the new law, level three offenders must check in quarterly. Level two individuals must update their information every six months. Tier one offenders will have to visit law enforcement annually.

St. Charles Republican State Rep. Kurt Bahr, who sponsored the provisions included in a Senate bill, says giving lower-level sex offenders a chance to get off the registry will make the list more effective.

“The purpose of the list, when it was created, was supposed to be a tool for public safety,” he tells Missourinet. “If the list becomes too large, the tool becomes less effective. I’m trying to make sure that the tool is able to achieve its intended goal, as opposed to simply becoming wide enough to catch a lot of people whose crimes are sexual in nature but aren’t necessarily violent in nature.”

Bahr is in his eighth and final year in the Missouri House of Representatives.

The provisions are included in Senate Bill 655.

By Alisa Nelson | Missourinet