The last few weeks have been dominated by Budget hearings and anxiety concerning Missouri’s budget. We face one of the worst budget shortfalls in recent history and certainly the worst I have ever faced in my time working at the General Assembly. The next few weeks will determine a lot for the safety of Missouri children.
In significantly better news, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing last week on House Bill 415—which would strengthen and clarify penalties for sex offenders who recidivate. Most Missourians do not realize how poorly we do as a state in sentencing offenders who molest children. Statewide data shows that only about 50 percent of child sex offenders go to prison—the rest go on probation or to a 120-day shock treatment program.
Missouri KidsFirst is very hopeful that HB 415 would allow more sex offenders to be given convictions that are more appropriate for the seriousness of their offense. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, who is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He is a long-time friend and ally of Missouri children, and we are very grateful for his work to protect children and address the injustice of current sentencing practices.