JEFFERSON CITY -Several family members of registered sex offenders told a legislative committee about how their lives were by the current sexual offender registration system.
One woman, Pam Baumstark, told the Interim Committee on Criminal Justice about her son Zach who she said committed suicide because of sex-offense charges based activities when he was a young teen.
When Zach was just fourteen years old, she told the panel her son downloaded sexual videos online of under-age girls.
That website was monitored by an agency that had downloaded child pornography in hopes of attracting sexual predators. Four years later, Zach faced the harsh realities of his mistakes.
"It wasn't until two months after Zach turned 18 that the St. Charles County police were at our door to confiscate his computer," Baumstark said.
"He was banned from the computer, had weekly urine testing, drug counseling, sex offender therapy group session, and was assigned a probation officer," Baumstark told the committee.
On July 1, 2010, Zach was sentenced to 40 years of supervised release and a lifetime on the sexual offender registry.
This meant that for the rest of Zach's life, he would be have to regularly register himself as a sex offender and was not allowed to be in the company of anyone under the age of 18.
Zach would have to miss all Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations with the family due to his young niece and nephews being in attendance.
He quickly isolated himself in his room, and suffered from severe anxiety. Baumstark said her son constantly felt threatened with prison.
The stress became too much to handle, and by November of 2010, the Baumstark family officially lost their son.
"On November 4, 2010, I lost my son," Baumstark said. "The autopsy report deemed his death an accidental overdose. I and those who knew him well deemed it an accidental suicide."
Several other parents and relatives testified as to how their families were hurt by Missouri's current sexual offender registration laws.
The Criminal Justice Committee is examining the state's entire criminal sentencing laws. The investigation comes after repeated recommendations from the state Supreme Court's chief justice that Missouri find cheaper alternatives than prison for first-offense, non-violent offenders.