A sex offender registry is a list current list of sex offenders. Each of the 50 states has a sex offender registry. Yet, the information provided about sex offenders continues to vary between individual states, and even amongst the counties and cities within a state. Some sex offender registries provide an abundance of information where others include only the basic information required by law. Some of the information one might find in a sex offender registry includes the sex offender's name, known nick name, home address, place of employment, work address, identifying marks, scars, and tattoos, the reason for the conviction, and type of vehicle driven by the sex offender.
In Missouri the state sex offender registry is maintained by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The MSHP (Missouri State Highway Patrol) implemented Missouri's sex offender registry in 1995 to complying with the Jacob Wetterling Act. The Jacob Wetterling Act was established after eleven year old Jacob Wetterling disappeared in 1989, while riding home from a local video store with 2 friends. A man ordered the boys to lie down in the ditch, and proceeded to look into each of the boys faces using a flash light, and when he came to Jacob, he ordered the other two boys to run away fast, and they did.
When the boys turned around a short time later there was no sign of Jacob Wetterling or the man with the flashlight. Jacob Wetterling has never been located and his case remains under investigation. It is the Jacob Wetterling Act which requires individual states to develop and maintain a Crimes Against Children Unit and Sex Offender Registry.
Then there is the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) or the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). The NSOPW is a nationally maintained sex offender registry and is maintained by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) along with the information provided by individual states.
The obvious advantage of a National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) is that one can search for sex offender information by making a single inquiry. However, the information on the NSOPW is only as good as the information that each individual state or local law enforcement agency provides to the NSOPW.
If any information found on the websites is incorrect or outdated the searcher should contact the registry directly to provide the correct information. Incorrect or incomplete information can cause innocent people harm. People who use a sex offender registry should consider that the information that is on a sex offender site must be personally verified.
In other words just because your neighbor’s name is Bill Smith, does not mean that he is the same Bill Smith listed in a sex offender registry or the same Bill Smith that teaches one of your child’s classes. Be especially careful when using common names like Smith or Jones. Using a sex offender’s middle initial can be helpful in preventing innocent people from being treated as a sex offender when he or she is not one. The information provided by the directory locally or nationally should never be taken simply at face value.
In Missouri the Missouri State Highway Patrol maintains a toll free number which is answered Monday through Friday from seven in the morning until seven at night. That number is 1-888-SOR-MSHP or 1-888-767-6747 and can be called if one has questions, concerns, or information regarding the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Sex Offender Registry or Missouri sex offenders. The MSHP also provides an email address of firstname.lastname@example.org which can be accessed at any time of the day or night.
Laws change periodically, and it is the responsibility of the sex offender to know which laws affect him or her on both a local and national level. There was a recent decision in the Missouri Supreme Court on June 16 of this year that affects sex offenders who committed sex offenses prior to July 20, 2006. The Missouri Supreme Court issued a ruling that the federally mandated registration requirements under SORNA or the Sexual Offenders Registration and Notification Act, requires sex offenders previously exempted from registering in Missouri to now register. Essentially it means that the federal law outweighs the local law, so if it is required nationally, it must be required locally.
The Missouri Sex Offender Registry is mailing letters to these sex offenders notifying them that they must once again register in Missouri due to the change in Federal Law. The MSHP Missouri State Highway Patrol is asking anyone who may know where one of the previously exempted sex offender is residing to contact the local office or agency for sex offenders.
In addition if you know of a sex offender who has absconded please call your local law enforcement with any information. An absconder is an unregistered sex offender. This can mean the sex offender moved and has failed to register his or her new address or the sex offender is no longer living at the address he or she last provided. Either way the offender is breaking the law.