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Texas towns remain committed to useless restrictions

By Eric Dexheimer . . .

KJ grew up in Meadows Place, a 1-square-mile Houston bedroom community of modest 1970s and ’80s tree-shaded homes. In late 2007, she returned as a 33-year-old seeking to settle in a community she recalled warmly.

“I have great memories of this place,” she said. KJ — she asked that her name not be used for fear of losing her job; she was fired when her previous employer learned of her background — and her husband purchased a four-bedroom house near her childhood home. Her two boys attended her old elementary school, a three-minute walk away.

The bottom fell out four years later. A baby sitter the couple had hired in 2003 contacted police and revealed the two had pursued her for sex when she was 15. According to police reports and court records, KJ had left after the baby sitter said no. But, while she was at work, her husband later had sex with the girl.

Called into the police station in late 2011 and confronted with the by-then 23-year-old’s charges, KJ’s husband confessed. He was sentenced to 10 years of probation. KJ received 4 years of probation for indecency with a child by exposure as part of a deferred adjudication deal, and she was required to register as sex offender.

Although many sex offenders on probation are prohibited from being around children, KJ wasn’t. She maintained custody of her sons, whom she may pick up and drop off at school and activities.

Yet when she showed up to check in at the Meadows Place police station, she said police refused to register her as a resident and informed her she couldn’t live in her home. A city ordinance prohibited registered child sex offenders from living within a certain distance of places where children gathered; her house was too close to a city pool.

“But I already live here,” she replied.

“You can’t anymore,” she was told. In an unfolding legal battle, KJ stands to become the first Texas homeowner evicted from her own house for violating one of the ordinances.

State and local laws restricting where registered sex offenders may live after completing probation and parole have been around for a decade or longer. Many passed in the wake of a flurry of high-profile “memorial laws” named for children abducted and killed by strangers. While no Texas statute restricts where sex offenders can reside once they are released from state supervision, about 80 municipalities have adopted local ordinances prohibiting registered child sex offenders from living up to 2,500 feet near where children gather.

Violations typically come with a fine between $500 and $2,000 per day. Yet officials concede the restrictions rarely are invoked as criminal cases. More often, they function as a legal keep-out sign warning sex offenders they are unwelcome.

“It puts everybody on notice that we’re not going to tolerate these cases,” said Hutto Police Chief Byron Frankland, who pushed for the Austin suburb to adopt a 1,000-foot residency restriction soon after being hired this year. . . .

In West Lake Hills — where a city ordinance prohibits registered child sex offenders not only from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and youth centers, but also school bus stops — council members must quiz an applicant about his relationship with his mother before granting an exemption, among other criteria. Advocates say such procedures are unlikely to result in many applications or approvals.

Residency restrictions reflect a belief that those convicted of sex offenses are uniquely dangerous and incapable of reform. “There is convincing documented evidence that sex offenders are sexual predators who present an extreme threat to public safety, are likely to use physical violence in the commission of their crimes and have a higher recidivism rate than persons convicted of other crimes,” states the ordinance in the North Texas town of Venus.

As the number of registered sex offenders in Texas approaches 90,000, however, studies have found many of those assumptions to be false. Studies show the vast majority of sex offenses are committed against family members or acquaintances, and that convicted sex offenders appear less likely to repeat their crime than those convicted of other offenses.

That means laws based on offenders grabbing random children off playgrounds have little practical effect on public safety. “The research does not support that residency restrictions, or exclusion zones, have any beneficial impact on safety, or recidivism, or any other objective you’re trying to achieve here,” Michele Deitch, of the University of Texas’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, told state legislators this spring. “In fact, there’s a growing body of research that shows residency restrictions increase sex offender recidivism rates” by driving offenders away from family and other support systems. . . .

Yet the fear of child sex predators persists, and many citizens support residency restrictions — the wider the better. In a 2015 study, researchers from Nebraska asked residents their opinion of the state law prohibiting sex offenders from living within 500 feet of schools and day care facilities.

Sixty percent said 500 feet was too close. Half of those thought the buffer should be at least a mile; more than 10 percent simply said registered offenders should be forced to live “somewhere far away.”

Read the remainder of the article in the Austin Statesman to learn what “pocket parks” are and to read about legal challenges from Texas Voices for Reason and Justice.

 

 


 

 

 

This topic contains 13 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Maestro 2 weeks, 3 days ago.

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  • #26307 Reply

    david

    Nice headline! If only the AP would present it as such.

    It could be seen as positive that 40% of residents DIDN’T want larger distance requirements. Pretty amazing considering that Texas (and everywhere else too) is encouraging its citizens to hate and fear anyone who happens to be on the Registry.

    90,000 on the Texas Registry!!! How much longer before all that needless misery hits critical mass?

    • #26323 Reply

      Tim L

      When a man can stand in front of a jury and tell the DA that yuo think he’s nuts! Try it, like I did, its worth every penny! It can be less than 700. The fact is a con can as our founders did rightly was the right to trial AND call witness, indeed ANY PUBLIC or former OFFICIAL can be called to the stand. While a man under threat of felony conviction he in a sense becomes as powerful as the President for beck and call under court summons to testify in his defence.
      One could advance cause in his best defence those involved in his indenture to state property owned wholely by the people commonly known as state sex offender registry or Megan’s law website. They are computer databases. Computer databases are machines plain and simple. But it presumes to much is provable by call of expert witness. A computer database is powerful BUT it can not predict the future…. Ever? This is the basis for rejecting the General Warrant in the first place!

      If an act acknowledge law neither based in STATE or FED jurisdiction, be outside jurisdiction sole & Sovereign. No other shall exist. That a court should recognize jurisdiction other not beholden in “law”.

  • #26324 Reply

    Stay outraged

    Never seen a group of people so PROUD of something that doesn’t work. What they are attempting to prevent is no possible, much less achievable with any iteration of community notification. If anything, they need to be demoralized and disempowered because they’re not fighting the good fight they think they are.

  • #26333 Reply

    GraceImburgia

    Can this question be answered and presented to out town officials? What is the true percentage of the 90.000 that have reoffended? What can we do to help promote the correction of this information?

    • #26352 Reply

      Sandy
      Keymaster

      No, the question cannot be answered, and any attempt to answer it with an statement other than the results of a legitimate, published study or with a truthful phrase such as, “Very few registered citizens living in the community commit another sexual offense,” would be to lay ourselves open to charges of using numbers that cannot be verified and would undermine our veracity in everything we say. We do everything we can to get the facts before the public, and mainstream media is starting to help with that to a significant degree. The fact is that town officials, in most situations, already know the truth, but following the truth does not take precedence over doing what their constituents want.

      • #26371 Reply

        Tim L

        Until they understand that an unsecured DATABASE is a MUCH BIGGER threat to their security.

    • #26417 Reply

      BS

      You miss the point. NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE FACTS. The sheep blindly follow the leaders they elect who make decisions on emotions and “tuff on crime” stances so as to get re-elected. You can spout facts until you are blue in the face and nothing will change.

      If you want change, you just have to pray that sons and daughters of politicians, city leaders, judges, etc… get charged with a sex offense. Then, and only then, will the parents of these people see the light for what the laws really are and do and the negative effects on families.So start praying.

      .

  • #26348 Reply

    Grace

    This is all fine until their loved one is caught in this far reaching net. Soon everyone will know someone on the registry and that someone could very well be their own child thanks to cell phones and the internet. Then maybe they will look at the facts and find ways to truly protect children and their families. Thanks to NARSOL for all you do.

  • #26356 Reply

    Saddles

    Stop for a minute. Sure safety is a factor and yes I would be proud I saved someone but when their is no one to save just assuming because of a potty mouth or a few playboy magazine’s or some porno on a computer screen that’s the guilty conscious of the individual. Now factor in police when they get wind of something or present an opportunity such as these internet sex sting operations than one has to say who is proud.
    I wonder if that gunman was proud of killing all those people or was he deranged, mentally ill, or did someone give him the opportunity?
    We can all talk about useless restrictions, even sometimes running one’s mouth….. sorry about that maestro . just kidding my friend, but seriously we all should care for each other and bare each other’s burden. Today it doesn’t seem that way. You rub one’s thigh and someone tells police, or you tongue kiss a gal that is a bit younger than the other and the police find out, they are gonna sock it to you. Its all about conscious. Don’t you know pride goeth before the fall.
    Hey who would ever image that some person would go into a church and start shooting people, or who would ever image someone mowing down people in NY and it goes on and on. Now as I have said the police are to protect and serve. I guess pretty soon picking your nose in public is going to be a crime of some sort.

  • #26370 Reply

    Donna

    Good luck to Texas Voices for Reason and Justice. As the number of folks on the registry grows, we’ll be seeing more and more of this type of push back, especially from a select number of states. Eventually something will give, not sure what or how but in time when folks on this foolish registry don’t cause any problems and people realize they are good neighbors they have to come around. Lets all keep fighting and supporting Narsol and our state affiliates.

  • #26409 Reply

    Maestro

    “There is convincing documented evidence that sex offenders are sexual predators who present an extreme threat to public safety, are likely to use physical violence in the commission of their crimes and have a higher recidivism rate than persons convicted of other crimes,” states the ordinance in the North Texas town of Venus.

    Well there you have it. They’re from Venus. Being from another planet must be their excuse for being so naive. 😂😂😂

  • #26412 Reply

    Saddles

    Boy I’m so glad I don’t think but I believe women are from Venus and men are from Mars but still maestro makes a good point. Too much pressure on anyone can make one go off the wall and start shooting up things. If some SO is gonna take their life I’m sure if the pressure from government or rules or ordinance’s can pushing people to the verge and sometimes the law really goes to far. Protecting and serving are good but any law enforcement that gives one an opportunity isn’t. Spying is a whole different matter or digging into one’s brain matter..
    I didn’t say anything maestro so remember a mind is a terriable thing to waste… Now if I could only spell.

  • #26452 Reply

    gonzo

    The only real recourse as I see it is the constitution and supreme court. Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is not granted but is a birth right. The punishing should stop after punishment is rendered and price is paid in full. Keep a positive attitude and maintain purpose, this is within an individuals control, no one can take it away.

  • #26474 Reply

    Kendal

    “More often, they function as a legal keep-out sign warning sex offenders they are unwelcome.” Doesn’t that just give you a warm fuzzy feeling. The “officials” tell us we are not welcome. Doesn’t matter what the neighborhood wants, the officials don’t want us.

    With all the sexual happenings of the legislature, it makes me wonder why they don’t see this. Bill Clinton and his Monica, the senator that tapped his foot under the stall to get a blowjob, and all the sexting and leering of the legislature with the interns. Each and every one of them should try just a week on the registry and see how they all fair. And yes, they have all done things that will get you on the registry.

    It is time to take our country back, throw the trash out of the white house, and become the home of the free and the land of the brave.

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