By Pat Pratt . . . A woman barred by her church from a marathon to fight hunger and a man who saw hatred spewed so often his daughter was forced to move and his wife took her own life — they and others are seeking removal from Missouri’s life-long sex offender registry, arguing it is unconstitutionally cruel.
The children of many of the 25 John and Jane Does seeking removal have also joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed recently in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, claiming the lifetime requirement of their parents has deprived them of their constitutional rights as well.
Named as defendants are Missouri State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Eric Olson, technical services commander Maj. David Flannigan and criminal justice information services director Capt. Christopher Jolly.
State Attorney General Eric Schmitt responded to the suit on Monday, writing the plaintiffs are barred from bringing suit by sovereign immunity and the time to file has passed. He also argued they have not exhausted administrative remedies and challenged whether federal court was the proper venue as opposed to the state courts.
Attorney Clifford Cornell, who is representing the plaintiffs, did not return a call seeking comment, but in the petition writes that in the case of his clients, the registry results in retribution for past offenses more than the public safety it was originally intended to promote.
“The Missouri Legislature is prohibited from inflicting punishment on a particular person or group through legislative action without trial or judicial action,” the petition reads. “SORA violates the above constitutional bans as it imposes punishment on an affected class whose membership is based entirely on past conduct with no method or process provided for escaping the class.”
In the petition, the offenders seeking relief detail how the registry has negatively impacted their lives long after serving their sentences. Some of those effects are hurtful, such as missing sporting events, name calling and being shunned in the community. Others are far reaching and devastating.