State Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, disagrees with Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would have given juvenile sex offenders a second chance.
Under the bill, sex offenders who committed their crimes when they were under 18 years old would have been immediately removed from the public sex offender website as long as they had not violated terms of sentencing or committed any other type of sex crime, Hinson said.
Given the Legislature’s strong support of the bill, there may be an attempt to override the veto in September, Hinson said. No one opposed the bill in the House when it passed in May, and the Senate passed it 28-4.
If the juvenile offenders are required to stay on the public website for the rest of their lives, it can hinder their ability to move forward in life, Hinson said. They deserve a chance to be rehabilitated, Hinson said.
For instance, he said sex offenders have high unemployment rates. When they can’t get jobs, it means they are living on the public dole, Hinson added.
Child advocacy groups support removing from the website offenders who committed their crimes as juveniles, Hinson said.
The language removing the juvenile offenders from the website was originally in a separate bill sponsored by Hinson but was then added onto a bill sponsored by State Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington.
The bill would have also allowed juvenile offenders to petition the court to have their names removed from a separate law enforcement registry. The juveniles could have sought removal from the law enforcement registry five years after being convicted or released from custody, he said.
In his veto letter, Nixon stated that the bill would have reduced public safety and failed to protect victims’ rights.
It would have required the removal of about 560 sex offenders currently listed on state and county sex offender websites, the governor’s letter adds.
Hinson said that is less than 5 percent of the some 13,000 people on the registry. It is not as if half the people are being taken off the list, Hinson added.
The bill’s language was overly broad because it would have granted relief for sex offenders regardless of the type of sex offenses they committed, the governor wrote. Moreover, it would have allowed them to be removed from the registry without first hearing from victims of sex abuse, Nixon stated.
Nixon also opposed the part of the bill that would have allowed the offender to petition the court for removal from the law enforcement registry. The governor noted that the bill required the judge to grant the petition as long as the offender did not have other sex crime charges, including failure to register.
This would have eliminated the judge’s ability to use discretion to determine whether removing a juvenile would be in the public’s best interest, Nixon stated.
The bill “does not strike an appropriate balance between providing this relief to a limited class of juvenile sex offenders and the need to ensure public safety,” the veto letter says.
For purposes of this bill, a juvenile is a person under 18 years old. But in other cases 17-year-olds who are charged with a crime are considered adults.