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August 24, 2013

Debate continues after Mizzou Gov vetoes bill to take juve sex offenders off registries

As reported in this AP piece, headlined "Vetoed bill could affect 870 Mo. sex offenders," the Show Me state is showing all of us how a focused debate over juvenile sex offenders can play out these days. Here are the basics:

A Missouri bill removing the names of juvenile sex offenders from public registries could affect hundreds more people than originally estimated and help hide the whereabouts of some high-profile offenders, Gov. Jay Nixon said Wednesday.

The Democratic governor pointed to new figures and specific examples of sex-offenders as he traveled to St. Louis and Kansas City to try to build a case for why legislators should sustain his veto of the bill....  Republican legislative leaders have said the measure is a likely target for a veto override, noting that it passed originally with overwhelmingly support.

Under the bill, people who are younger than 18 when they commit sex offenses would no longer appear on law enforcement websites that list the home addresses and physical description of sex offenders.  Adults who are currently listed because of sex offenses committed as juveniles also could be removed from the public registry five years after their convictions or release from prison.

Supporters of the bill have said the public registries leave a permanent mark on adults who may have been convicted as teenagers for consensual sexual activities with younger juveniles.  They have said such people deserve a second chance outside of the public spotlight.

The bill passed the House 153-0 and the Senate 28-4 earlier this year. Nixon has said the legislation would weaken state laws and undermine public safety....

"The leadership of the House may be ready to help violent sex offenders hide from the public and law enforcement, but their victims, and the millions of Missourians who use these websites to help keep their families safe, are not," Nixon said.

The governor's office distributed information about specific sex offenders who could be removed from the list if lawmakers were to override his veto.  Among them is Daniel Winfrey, who was 15-years-old in April 1991, when sisters Julie and Robin Kerry were raped and killed at the Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi River in the St. Louis area.  Winfrey pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and rape after agreeing to testify against several others involved in the crime.

Other offenders that the governor's office cited as likely to be removed from the public registry included men who had been convicted as juveniles of rape, sexual assault and sodomy against children who were ages 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said the legislation would benefit people who committed "heinous" acts. "These aren't Romeo and Juliet people we're talking about here," Holste said.

August 24, 2013 at 12:19 PM | Permalink


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Nixon is a democrat. The proposal and vast majority of bill signers were republicans. Missouri is a relatively conservative state, so Nixon is doing the obvious: Use the sex offender hysteria to rile the natives and, more importantly, give the legislators' opponents red meat to use the "sex offender coddler" card.

Occam's Razor personified.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Aug 24, 2013 1:51:01 PM

Nailed it, Eric.

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 24, 2013 11:32:59 PM

The testimony of an expert sets the standard of conduct for a narrow technical procedure, to be enforced by tort litigation. The Daubert standard applies to testimony in criminal trials as well. It is based on the necessity to void prejudice, deception, and unfairness to the defendant. It is ultimately grounded in the Due Process Clause, although that grounding is never mentioned in the Opinion of the Court.

That is the minimum requirement for rule making in a narrow field, affecting a small number of practitioners and consumers. If a rule applies to an entire population and has greater impact on the lives of defendants than any tort litigation, shouldn't the requirement of proof of reliability and general acceptance be even greater?

People have not challenged laws on Daubert or scientific grounds. Only two Supreme Court decisions mention scientific proof, Mass v EPA, and Brown v Bd. of Ed.

I suggest someone with standing challenge these registration laws on ineffectiveness, and rent seeking grounds. In rent seeking, the taxpayer is forced to pay and gets nothing of value back. It must criminalized as a form of armed robbery.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 25, 2013 9:59:14 AM

Can these veto be overridden?

Posted by: Poirot | Aug 25, 2013 10:35:24 AM

These politicians need to wake up, it's not the age that matters, it's the crime. Sure there are plenty of juveniles who don't belong on the SOR because their crime doesn't threaten society, plenty of adults in the same boat. But there are also plenty of juveniles who despite their age when they committed their crimes, are still going to be dangerous whwen they get out. If we don't get rid of the SOR completely, which by the way, doesn't make society any safer, then we need to remove both adults and juveniles who pose no threat to society from the list. End the witch hunt!

Posted by: kat | Aug 25, 2013 11:52:58 AM

I've opined on this so much my head is on autopilot. Here goes...

Nixon is a democrat in a republican-controlled legislative branch of a relatively conservative state. He is banking on the fact that the emotional aspect of sex offender hysteria will help him gain cred on the populace by getting them to yell to their (mostly republican) representatives and senators to "STOP CODDLING THOSE FREAKIN' SEX OFFENDERS!!" Of course, if the veto is overridden, this will give the Democrats running against the legislators something to run on, by saying "Senator John Dumaz is a sex offender coddler. Would YOU trust him in dictating which child molester can live next door to YOUR children?" or something like that.

He gave a HORRIBLE defense of his veto, essentially stating the opposite of the very detailed and accurate information that the legislators referred to when they made THEIR vote. But when looked at in a veil of politics, Nixon's veto was a no-brainer.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Aug 25, 2013 2:35:45 PM

One of these days, the good governor of Missouri might wake up to find himself falsely accused or falsely convicted of a sex offense. Or, we might find out that he himself really has committed crimes that would be considered sex predator offenses. Remember what happened to former Congress Mike Bauman of Maryland in 1981 who made a career of falsely linking gays and lesbians to sex offense crimes. He himself was later busted for molesting juvenile pages in his Congressional office. If this happens to the MO governor, I'm sure we'll hear the good Governor hollering, "It ain't fair!" People like this governor should be forced to eat their own words about coddling of criminals and victims' rights.

Posted by: william r. delzell | Aug 25, 2013 6:13:00 PM


I think in a perfect world your analogy might be applicable. Unfortunately, we live in a world of the "haves and have nots." People with money have a far better chance of defending themselves from charges such as these (or any charge, for that matter).
Regardless, I do agree with what you are saying. The best course of action, according to experts in the treatment of sex offenders, is treatment, determination of degree of risk of reoffending, and placement on the tier applicable to their risk of reoffending. To do otherwise, and not give offenders a chance to rehabilitate, not only sentences those on the registry to a living hell, but demeans and invalidates our entire judicial system.
Certainly some offenders will slip through the cracks and reoffend. The same thing happens regarding offenders of other crimes. To say that only sex offenders should be given the current punishments without due process is a crime in and of itself.
I have the deepest compassion and sympathy for the victims of sex offenders. Punishment should be applied according to the severity of the crime. But no chance at rehabilitation? This is a violation of basic human rights.

Posted by: Oswaldo | Aug 27, 2013 10:59:10 AM

even better for him to one day wake up in the gov mansion to find himself surrounded by a group of these individuals he and others like him want to treat like ANIMALS. Then they procede to rip his ass apart.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 28, 2013 3:14:56 AM

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