Letters to the Editor, April 7

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Risk assessment will improve sex offender registry

Your article April 1 and editorial April 2 regarding the reform of the sex offender registry brought some needed attention to the issue. The Missouri Legislature will soon be making a decision regarding the registry, and it is important that legislators make the right one.

Congress passed the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act in 2006. States were given until 2009 to come into compliance or lose 10 percent of certain grant funding for law enforcement. Not a single state complied, and the deadline was extended. Even today only 16 states are in compliance. Missouri is one of them.

So many states have rejected SORNA because its provisions are abhorrent and the cost is many times greater than what's lost in funding. The registry can become bloated with nonviolent offenders and require considerable law enforcement resources. For example, a teenager having consensual sex with another teenager who is under 17 years of age can be charged as a criminal and end up on the registry for life.

Two bills in the Legislature would make changes to how the state would operate its registry. One would keep the state SORNA- compliant and retain its bad features. The other bill, HB589, is the better bill as it would use risk assessment an objective analysis of the danger that an offender presents and the likelihood of re- offending.

Risk assessment allows the true threats to society to be separated from the youthful indiscretions. This is not only better for public safety but would save millions of tax dollars. HB589 is the bill that should be approved by the Legislature.

Sharie Keil Dixon, Mo.

France's education system is a good example

Regarding the April 2 editorial concerning pre-kindergarten education ("America's 4-year-olds need more high-performing preschools"):

My daughter has lived in France for over 25 years, and I have grandsons who are approaching high school and college age. I have been privileged to witness the amazing cradle-to-grave support given by that country in educating their citizenry. Every aspect of the education system is staffed by highly trained and well-schooled professionals, starting with a day care system, "crche," with a sliding scale cost to the parents. Children graduate to preschool at an early age and are more than ready for kindergarten, proceeding up to postgraduate levels.

Education is paid for by the state with each student earning their way by diligence, hard work and competing for good grades and ranking, not, in the end, burdened by exorbitant student loans. Unencumbered by the high cost of their own education, graduates are free to use their talents and training, in return, to provide the staffing for the whole system of education from the youngest age. It's the old adage, "what goes around comes around."

Do we want what comes around to be a large part of our population unprepared to give back to our country?

Charlene Schneider St. Louis County

Former presidents deserve financial support

Regarding Bill McClellan's column "Start out by cutting aid to ex- presidents," April 3:

In my opinion, stopping all support of former presidents is one of Mr. McClellan's sillier, wrong-headed ideas. To focus on saving under $4 million in a $15 trillion economy is trivial. Moreover employers generously compensate their executives in retirement; should the United States do nothing for its chief executives in return for their service? …