Letters to the Editor
Sex offender registries
Kansas City Star - July 7, 2005
It amazes me, knowing what we know about sex offenders, that anyone would question the constitutionality of a state sex offender registry in Missouri (6/30, Metro, "Court to consider sex offender law").
According to a 1997 study (Prentky, Lee, Knight and Cerce), 52 percent of sex offenders re-offend over a 25-year period. Not only is it critical that there be a sex offender registry in Missouri, but there should be a national sex offender registry as well.
Offenders tend to move around, as in the case of William Webb. He was on the registry in the state of Washington because of a child molestation conviction in 1992. Recently, he was able to get a license to teach driver's education to high school students in Wisconsin because officials were unaware of his criminal background.
We need to start demanding criminal background checks of anyone to be licensed or employed to work with children. We also need to start lobbying our lawmakers to subsidize the cost of these expensive background checks.
It's true this is not foolproof, as not all sex offenders have been convicted or placed on a registry. But it is a step in the right direction.