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Politics

Changes to Sex Crimes Statutes Take Effect

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/changestos_1033.mp3

Tougher penalties for sex offenders who target children age 12 and under became law today. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Law enforcement officers and several state lawmakers joined Republican Governor Matt Blunt at the Greene County Courthouse in Springfield for a ceremonial bill signing.

The bill the governor signed sets a new minimum penalty of 30 years for anyone convicted of rape of sodomy with a child under the age of 12.

There's also an increased penalty for persistent sex offenders—they would have to serve life in prison without parole, instead of the current 30 year sentence.

Blunt says these are tough penalties.

Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore says he's glad to see the new law take effect.

He says the law recognizes that some sex offenders can't be rehabilitated.

In addition to setting up new penalties, the new statute provides a way for some offenders to have their names removed from the state's sex offender registry.

Moore says there are a few cases where this is appropriate.

The bill Governor Matt Blunt signed into law includes a new grant program. It will provide money to law enforcement agencies to hire detectives and computer experts to investigate internet sex crimes involving children.

Blunt says this is a good use of state money.

The bill contains an emergency clause, which means it became law as soon as the governor signed it.