State Representative Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, wants to ban some registered sex offenders from going within 500 feet of any Missouri Conservation Department nature or education center. The Missouri House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee is considering Kelly’s bill, which could charge violators with a felony. The measure would apply to sex offenders who have committed certain sex crimes against children.
“We have an ultimate responsibility to ensure that when the prosecutor goes after that individual for perpetrating evil crimes against a child, that we have teeth in the statute to make sure that the next person who might think about doing that, decides not to because they see the proper punishment has been handed down,” says Kelly.
During a public hearing, Missouri Department of Conservation Deputy Director Aaron Jeffries says the agency asked Kelly to sponsor the measure. He says about 800,000 kids visit the agency’s nature centers annually.
“How this got on our radar was simply off-duty police officers or conservation officers participating in programs at our nature centers recognizing registered sex offenders and not being able to do anything about the situation,” says Jeffries.