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December 14, 2008

Seeking refinement in sex offender registration requirements

This fascinating article from the Houston Chronicle, headlined "Unlikely force fighting sex crime's stigma: Texas Voices wants laws to note difference between dangerous predators, nonviolent offenders," spotlights a group seeking to refine which and how offenders appear on sex offender registries.  Here is an excerpt:

Martin Ezell is tired of the dead-end jobs and unrelenting stigma that comes with being a registered sex offender.... It's true that a decade ago, he was convicted of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl who was half his age. But the registry doesn't divulge that his victim was his girlfriend who now is his wife, with whom he has three children....

The military veteran, who lives with his family in a bedroom community south of Austin, is so angry about his lifetime registration requirement that he has joined forces with hundreds of other sex offenders similarly aggrieved about being on the registry.

This unlikely political force, which dubs itself Texas Voices, vows to fight the state's — and the nation's — sweeping registration laws. The group believes community notification laws fail to protect the public, because they don't distinguish dangerous predators from otherwise harmless men and women who foolishly had sex with underage lovers, served their sentences and don't need a lifetime of public scrutiny....

Texas Voices is finding agreement in unusual places.  Ray Allen, the former Texas House Corrections chair who helped shepherd into law tough sex registration bills, said he and his colleagues went too far.  "We cast the net widely to make sure we got all the sex offenders.  Now, 15 years on, it turns out that really only a small percentage of people convicted of sex offenses pose a true danger to the public," he said....

Texas Voices members know their chances for success hinge on politicians risking their careers on a population with just about zero political clout.  Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, who has been a driving force behind the community notification laws, isn't ready to assume that risk.  She insists that if the registry is too large, it's because there are too many people out there committing sex crimes.

December 14, 2008 at 09:25 AM | Permalink

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Comments

I just would like to state my support for Texas Voices. I am the 16 year old student that had "inappropriate relations" with a teacher at my high school. I did not have him for any classes, and he was a coach, paid by the hour, not a certified teacher. However, he is still being charged as if he was my teacher each and every day. He is facing brutal treatment from the community, can hardly show his face, and will have to register as a sex offender after his trial. He is a good man, and does not deserve to face the same judgement as violent sexual predators. He is anything but a predator, he is a kind, loving person. If it were my choice there would be no trial or sentencing, but it isn't up to me.
Thank you Texas Voices for perhaps giving him a chance.

Posted by: "that girl" | Feb 3, 2009 4:08:56 AM

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