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Auditor Logo Susan Montee

Report No. 2010-94
August 2010

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Findings in the follow-up audit of the Missouri Sexual Offender Registration Program

Sexual Offender Registration Program Improvements
Sexual offender registration compliance has significantly improved, with statewide registration non-compliance reduced from an estimated 36 percent in 2002 to approximately 7 percent as of March 31, 2010. In addition, the General Assembly, Department of Corrections (DOC) and Division of Probation and Parole (DPP), and Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) have generally implemented the recommendations in the prior audit report. The General Assembly passed various legislation since the last audit and the law enforcement agencies made various changes and other enhancements to their records and procedures to address recommendations. These actions contributed to the reduction in the rate of non-compliance with the registration requirements. As of March 31, 2010, Missouri had 10,549 actively registered sex offenders in 114 counties and one city (St. Louis) not within a county.

Further Improvements Needed
Further improvements are still needed to ensure (1) previously exempt offenders have re-registered, (2) further efforts are made to achieve substantial compliance with Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) requirements, (3) data matches are performed to help locate non-compliant offenders, (4) current notification procedures are properly performed, and (5) timely evaluation and treatment services are provided.

A June 2009 Missouri Supreme Court ruling resulted in 4,465 previously exempt sexual offenders being required to re-register on the sexual offender registry; however, 1,445 (32 percent) of these offenders had not re-registered as of March 31, 2010. In July 2009, the MSHP mailed letters to previously exempt offenders advising them of the June 2009 court decision and directing them to report and register with the chief law enforcement official in their county of residence within 3 days, unless they had already re-registered. It was initially the intent of the MSHP to allow applicable offenders 3 months to re-register; however, many of the letters came back undeliverable. Since October 2009, has the MSHP has attempted to locate current addresses of applicable offenders and add them back to the registry.

In July 2006, federal legislation (SORNA) was signed into law, providing a comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification. All states were initially mandated to meet SORNA requirements by July 2009. In March 2009, the MSHP submitted a SORNA compliance package to the applicable federal office for evaluation. In March 2010, the MSHP received the results of the federal review of the compliance package submitted for Missouri. While the federal authorities recognized and commended the state for the efforts made thus far, they concluded that Missouri had not yet achieved substantial compliance with the SORNA requirements. MSHP officials indicated necessary improvements can be made to achieve substantial compliance with the SORNA requirements by the summer of 2011, if the needed legislative changes are enacted in the 2011 legislative session. The MSHP has requested and received approval from federal officials for an extension (to July 2011) to allow sufficient time to address current deficiencies.

Missouri employers had reported salaries or wages earned in recent periods by non-compliant offenders. However, none of the local law enforcement officials we visited accessed available current wage data to help locate and pursue non-compliant offenders. In addition, although the MSHP has access to state wage information, the current agreement does not provide for batch matching capability.

The prior audit reported local sexual offender registration units were not always made aware when an offender on the registration list had been incarcerated. The DPP addressed this problem in 2005 with an amendment to its procedures. However, during visits to some DPP offices, it was determined three of eight DPP offices visited had not properly implemented the new procedures.

Officials at the various DPP offices visited indicated sexual offender treatment is a critical aspect of the DPP process to help prevent offenders from committing further sex crimes. However, because some offenders were not able to pay for treatment and state funding has not been appropriated or designated for this purpose, treatment has not always been provided in a timely manner. According to DPP estimates, indigent sex offenders need evaluation and treatment services costing of over $600,000 annually; however, the amount of recent funding provided for this purpose has been substantially below this amount.

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