Mo rep says he wanted to remove a law that breaks up marriages from the books
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Mo rep says he wanted to remove a law that breaks up marriages from the books

Date: April 21, 2009
By: Emily Coleman
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 747, Current statute

JEFFERSON CITY - Sexual relations between correctional workers and individuals on parole or probation will no longer be illegal, pending the governor's signature.

The Senate passed a House bill aimed at correcting legislation that made it illegal for any correctional facility workers to have sexual intercourse with a person on parole or probation, even if it's consensual.

Rep. Terry Witte, D-Vandalia, said he sponsored the bill after hearing from a couple in his district that was told by the Corrections Department that they would have to separate due to the legislation. He said both had worked for the department, but while on maternity leave, the woman was put on probation for shoplifting.

"(The Corrections Department) also said it was a law of unintended consequences, that the department did not mean to separate families just because one person was an offender - you know, placed on probation - and the partner or spouse was a corrections officer," said Witte.

Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence, said the Missouri General Assembly had been working on this kind of legislation since 2000. He said they intended the 2006 expansion to prevent sexual relations between parole officers and those they oversee.

The adopted legislation did more than that however.

"What inadvertently happened when in 2006 was that expansion meant that any employee of Corrections who might come in contact with someone who is on parole or probation out in the general public who may have sexual contact or relations with someone would be guilty," Shoemyer said. "This seemed like (it) would be too far for they (might) not know that this person would be (on parole or probation)."

Shoemyer said he thought the mistake occurred due to the rush to put it into law and then wasn't revised due to senators being term limited out.

The bill, which was less than a page in length, passed the Senate with no votes against it and minimal debate.

"It was pretty straight forward so it was easy to understand, and there was no opposition so it just went straight through," said Sen. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles County.

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