Missouri House of Representatives / http://www.house.mo.gov/
Legislators in Missouri say they may make a move later this fall to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s recent veto of a bill that would have removed juveniles from public sex offender registries.
In an interview with The Missourian, Republican state Rep. Dave Hinson said the bill had strong support in the state legislature, which swept through the House earlier this year with unanimous approval before passing out of the Senate after a 28-4 vote.
However, the bill was subsequently vetoed by Nixon, who said the legislation would not protect victims’ rights or uphold public safety.
Due to the bill’s strong support in May, Hinson has not ruled out the possibility the legislature may try to overrule the veto this September.
Hinson said that juveniles who are required to register on the public lists can be hindered for life, noting that sex offenders tend to experience higher rates of unemployment. Juvenile sex offenders deserved an opportunity to be rehabilitated, he said.
Approximately 560 offenders would have been removed from the state registries, had the bill not been vetoed — a number, Hinson said, representing about 5 percent of the total number of individuals listed on Missouri’s lists. Additionally, the bill would have allowed juvenile offenders to petition courts to have their names removed from other law enforcement registries five years after the offender’s released from custody or from when the offender was originally convicted.
Nixon said he vetoed the bill because it was overly broad and allowed offenders to be removed from sex offender lists before hearings from victims could be held. He was also critical of the portion of the bill that would have allowed offenders to petition courts to be removed from law enforcement registries, which Nixon argued would have limited judges’ discretion in determining whether an underage offender’s removal from the lists was in the best interests of the public.
“[The bill] does not strike an appropriate balance between providing this relief to a limited class of juvenile sex offenders and the need to ensure public safety,” Nixon wrote.