By Leisa Zigman, I-Team Reporter
St. Louis, MO (KSDK) -- With more than 12,000 people on Missouri's sex offender registry, some groups are advocating change. They argue law enforcement can't keep track of everyone on the list. To make the system more efficient and fair, groups like Missouri Citizens for Reform want all non violent offenders removed from the list.
Dennis Conlin started Missouri Citizens for Reform.
"Not everybody on the registry is violent," Conlin said. "Should the Romeo and Juliet case where the 19-year-old boy is having consensual sex with 15-year-old girl, should he be on the registry for life? I don't think so. Should a person being accused of urinating in public be on the registry for life? No, I don't think so."
Conlin said the current system lumps all offenders together and brands everyone, even those arrested for streaking, with a lifetime scarlet letter.
"In Missouri it's one size fits all. Everyone is on the registry," said Conlin.
But he doubts change will come soon. Conlin said most lawmakers don't want to risk political suicide by promoting such a bill.
"I see an injustice here. I see legislators, politicians, prosecutors; nobody wants to seem soft on child crime," Conlin said.
Some researchers and reform groups claim the registry doesn't prevent sexual assaults and, in fact, are counterproductive because they drive sex offenders underground, making them more difficult to track. Others believe the registration laws need to be repealed altogether and replaced with tougher punishments for the most violent of sex crimes. Still, others say the registries themselves are a good idea, but want to see greater limits placed on those required to register.