Gov. Nixon on offensive to keep juvenile sex offenders registered

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has gone on the offensive, backing his veto of a house bill that would take people off the registered sex offender list who committed their crimes while juveniles. Nixon, standing with St. Louis’ police chief and numerous other area police officers, said such a move can’t be allowed to happen.

The governor’s appearance on the issue came after Republican house speaker Tim Jones of Eureka said Nixon’s veto of the bill was “ripe for override.”

Republican lawmakers pushed the bill through this past session with little notice. Under the measure, people who commit sex crimes while juveniles would not be added to the list, and those already there would be removed.

“Calling this bill, quote, ripe for override, the speaker stands ready to help these sex offenders and more than 800 like them hide from the public and law enforcement,” Nixon said pointing to posters of several extreme examples of offenders who would be taken off the list if the veto were overridden. “Quite simply, we can’t let that happen.”

Some argue juvenile sex offenders should be treated like all other juvenile offenders. Unless they are tried as adults, their identity is kept secret. But Nixon insists those guilty of sex crimes are different.

“The legislature in the past as well as public safety officials and the public have understood that these violent acts, especially those involving children, are something that not only does law enforcement need to know about, but the public needs to have this tool.”

Not everyone agrees. Two women outside St. Louis Police Headquarters holding a sign for “Women Against Registry” believe the current system unfairly punishes young sex offenders.

“People who had an adjudication when they were young are of course not the same people as they are now,” Vicki Henry said. “And putting them on a sex offender registry for the rest of their life allows them and their family no life. And it also encourages vigilantes.”

Lawmakers return to Jefferson City in September for a “veto session,” where an override vote appears likely to take place. They would need a two thirds majority to override Nixon’s veto.

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