Missouri sentencing laws don’t consider those whose first child sex offense resulted in them completing a 120-day treatment program to be repeat offenders if they commit such a crime again. Repeat offenders face longer jail sentences.
Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) is proposing a change to that sentencing law.
“A 120-day callback was really designed as a drug treatment program. It’s broadened into other things now. That’s what it used to be. When it comes to sexual offenses, that’s a completely different type of offense, it’s a completely different type of offender and it doesn’t work,” said Schaefer. “A 120-day callback has gotten to be pretty big leverage to get a plea deal. I think it’s fine particularly if you have questionable evidence and you are worried about going to trial, but I also think you have to be fair to victims and the public.”
Senator Bob Onder (R- Lake St. Louis) supports the bill.
“Why is it that we’ve gotten to a point that a program meant to be a way to getting people into drug treatment has morphed into a way of letting pedophiles off?” asked Onder.
Emily van Schenkof with Missouri Kids First also supports the proposal and hopes another discussion will follow.
“We use and sentence approximately 100 sex offenders a year under the 120-day program. So you rape a child, you spend four months in jail. I believe that the vast majority of Missourians would be appalled to know that this is a sentence that we regularly use for sex offenders,” said van Schenkof.
“We do a better job of holding drug offenders accountable for their crimes. We do a better job of holding people who commit property crimes accountable. We typically see sentences of sex offenders that are grossly inadequate to what they have done to children.”
The bill would also require lifetime supervision of child sex offenders and prohibit granting probation to pedophiles.
A Senate committee is considering Schaefer’s proposal.