Legislatures and Prosecutors Battle over Sex-Offender Bills

Kansas City, MO – Missouri and Kansas are among 22 statesin which at least one version of a "Jessica's Law" is before the legislature. Area Representative Patricia Kilpatrick sponsored the Kansas House Bill, and Senator Matt Bartle of Lee's Summit sponsored the Missouri Senate measure. Both called for minimum stentences of 25 years on first conviction of what the bills defined as a "violent sex offense" against a child. But prosecutors in both states have some reservations about making the sentences mandatory. They say a strong mandatory sentence will make it harder to get some persons to report molestations by friends or family members. A Kansas House committee has amended the bill making the 25-year sentence optional. A House version of the Missouri bill omits a Senate provision prosecutors say would make it harder to get convictions.