Police don't know the whereabouts of nearly 1,300 registered sex offenders in Missouri, including hundreds who fall into the most dangerous category, according to a state audit released Monday. Missouri law requires convicted sex offenders to register their names, addresses, and other information with their county law enforcement, and the State Highway Patrol maintains a publicly available database. Offenders must keep their information up-to-date and notify law enforcement when they move. The audit released by state Auditor Nicole Galloway says 1,259 sex offenders are unaccounted for—about 8% of the nearly 16,000 registered sex offenders in Missouri—and it blames inadequate enforcement of the registration requirement at the local level, the AP reports.
In 14 counties and the city of St. Louis, the whereabouts of more than 10% of sex offenders is unknown. The law took effect in 1995 and was updated this year to classify sex offenders into three tiers. The most dangerous sex offenders are listed in Tier III for offenses that include rape, sodomy, or first- or second-degree child molestation. Those offenders must register with local police every 90 days for the rest of their lives. Galloway said the audit found that at least 794 of the non-compliant offenders met the criteria for Tier III. Failure to comply with registration requirements is a felony. The audit cites a need for the highway patrol to improve procedures for maintaining the database and for helping local police enforce registration requirements.
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