Missouri Mom Addresses Problems With Sex Offender Registry

16 May, 2014

Sharie Keil is a simple mom from Missouri whose world was “smashed to the ground” when, back in 1998, her 17 year-old son was charged as a sex offender for unknowingly having sex with a pre-teen girl at a party. This meant that although being a juvenile, he would be put on the sex offender registry list and would not be allowed to interact normally with the community ever again. The sex offender registry list complies with Megan’s Law, an American legislation passed in the 1990s that forces all people deemed sex offenders to be identifiable to the public. Above all, Keil’s favorite holiday, Halloween, would have to be cancelled at her house in order to “protect the children”.

This pushed Keil to act and she is now heading the Missouri Citizens for Reform, which has seen varying success at the state level but not yet at the federal level. 800,000 names are currently on the list nationally and Keil believes reforming the list or getting rid of it altogether would make those lives much easier. There is obviously much resistance to what Keil is trying to accomplish.

Her arguments lie with other mothers she has met down the road to reform. Their sons have also been labelled as full-blown sex offenders because of misdemeanor charges or simple mistakes, such as mistakenly downloading an image of child pornography. At the very least Keil is trying to separate the “Jerry Sandusky type” from being seen on an equal level to a boy who did not know his sexual partner was underage. “We need to forget everything we think we know about sex offenders,” Keil says, “because 20 years of research has shown us it’s all pretty much wrong.”

To read the full article, which entails the ongoing struggle with reforming the registry and other stories of families that have been ravaged by it, click here

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