Original Article (Video available)
By Joanna Small
If Missouri lawmakers override a veto by Governor Jay Nixon, anyone who committed a sex crime before the age of 18 will be excluded from the state's sex offender registry.
SPRINGFIELD - Sex offenders off the registry. It's a possibility for some of them if Missouri lawmakers decide Wednesday to override the governor's veto. A bill that would exempt sex offenders who committed their crime as juveniles got nixed by Nixon but it will likely get the go-ahead from the legislature.
The legislature will be looking at Nixon's 29 vetoes this week and some have vowed to override him on everything. Nixon calls this particular house bill a safety issue but others say it has the potential to change lives for the better.
This man, who we'll call Dustin, is thorough and efficient, knowledgeable, and dedicated. He's in his backyard, picking apart electronics and appliances. He knows what every part is and how much each is worth.
"I'm a hard worker," he tells us. "I work every day of the week, that's why I've got cuts all over my hands."
He seems like the ideal hire. He even did an apprenticeship in rough carpentry. The problem is... it was in prison.
"I've seen people get their throat cut, I've seen people get beat up with rocks, I've seen people die," Dustin, just 24, says.
He is a sex offender. In 2005 the then 16-year-old had a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old. He was sentenced to seven years hard time.
"I kind of grew up in prison," he explains. "I started growing face hair and started becoming a man in prison."
He's been out less than a year and life has been pretty miserable.
The way the law is written right now Dustin can't be anywhere near a school, a daycare, or even a park. And the reason why Dustin is scrapping and mowing relatives' yards for a measley $200 a month is because he says no one will hire him, even temporarily.
"They look down on you like you're some kind of pervert or something."
Dustin says the Missouri bill that would remove him from the sex offender register would allow him to be a productive citize but Governor Jay Nixon says it's too risky.
"4.2 million Missourians accessed the sex offender registry last year to see who lives around their home, their business, their daycare, whatever, and it's a very important public policy tool," Nixon told KSPR Monday.
Dustin just wants another chance to work with and for something other than scraps.
"If they didn't have me down as a felon I wouldn't have half the problems I have out here," he concludes.
The Mssouri Highway Patrol just released Monday that since 2009 72 people have successfully petitioned to be removed from the state's sex offender registry.
That's when the law changed to allow those 19 and younger with victims at least 13 at the time of the crime to apply for exemption. If this bill is overridden hundreds of others will be removed automatically.
Some other laws that Governor Nixon vetoed that could come up during the override session are an income tax cuts bill, the nullification of federal gun-control laws, and new hurdles for public employee unions.