St. Louis Public Radio News
9:19 am
Tue January 27, 2009

Lawmakers consider life without parole for some violent sex offenders

Jefferson City, MO – A bill in the Missouri Senate would put some violent sex offenders away for life.

Currently, someone who forcibly rapes or sodomizes a child that's eleven years old or younger gets life in prison, but is eligible for parole after serving 30 years.

The new measure would give prosecutors the option of pursuing life without parole.

Kerry Messer of the Missouri Family Network testified in favor of the bill at a Senate hearing Monday night.

"No pedophile has ever been found in a corrections department to ever be corrected of that sexual deviancy...so letting them out at any time puts more victims at risk," Messer said.

Daniel Dodson, an attorney from Sedalia, testified against the bill.

"Things change...within 30 years, there may be ways to rehabilitate these people...30 years is going to get most of these offenders to where they're getting fairly old in the first place...a lot of them aren't going to get out after 30 years, anyway," Dodson said.

Dodson also said that the State Board of Probation and Parole should have a say in how long such offenders remain locked up.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the bill at a later date.