Missouri says nearly 1,300 registered sex offenders have gone missing. How did this happen?
This is unacceptable.
Missouri state audit.
The number sounds impossible. How could more than a thousand registered sex offenders simply fall off the radar in an entire state? But that’s exactly what has happened in Missouri, according to an audit released by one concerned lawmaker.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway says roughly 8 percent of Missouri’s registered sex offenders are currently unaccounted for -- a shocking total of 1,259 individuals.
That number includes what Galloway says are 800 of the “most dangerous” registered offenders in the state, i.e. those convicted of crimes like rape and child molestation.
Galloway says her audit is meant to bring attention to what she says is a lackluster effort by state law enforcement officials to keep tabs on registered offenders. Under state law, it’s a felony for sex offenders to not re-register with state officials every 90 days.
"The law requiring sex offenders to register has been on the books for more than 20 years to help keep our communities, and especially our children, safe," Galloway said in a statement. "But if the law isn't enforced, it's not effective and public safety is compromised."
Galloway’s audit found that less than 10 percent of offenders who failed to report have warrants out for their arrests, despite it being a felony offense.
"Law enforcement can't track the location of registered sex offenders if sex offender laws are not enforced," Galloway said. "This also takes away the ability of Missourians to effectively use the sex offender registry when making decisions to protect themselves and their families."
There are nearly 16,000 registered sex offenders in the state of Missouri alone. As horrifying as that sounds, it’s actually slowly below the 50 state national average based on recent data which claims there are 747,408 registered offenders across America.
Galloway is calling for officials in the state to update their tracking systems, improving background checks for school volunteers and making it easier for state officials to audit the state’s registry program.