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March 8, 2011

Texas apparently not planning to comply with federal AWA sex offender rules

The Houston Chronicle has this notable piece about Texas's resistance to implementation of the federal Adam Walsh Act.  The piece is headlined "Sex offender list in the middle of a showdown; Federal mandate costs too much to implement, Texas officials argue," and here are snippets:

The latest battleground between Texas officials and the federal government is an unlikely clash over the Adam Walsh Act, a federal law to protect children from sexual predators by creating a national sex offender registry that local law enforcement agencies could tap.

The state — which has the second-largest sex offender database in the nation, with 63,000 men and women registered — is balking at the law's requirements, citing unacceptably high costs of implementing the law's provisions.  The Legislature has not yet passed the changes, saying the cost for Texas to comply would be $38.8 million, a significant amount with the state facing a budget crisis....

If Texas does not comply with the federal mandate by July 26, the state will lose 10 percent of its federal funding under the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, which provides assistance to crime victims and witnesses.  The penalty would amount to an estimated $2.2 million in 2012.

The crux of the dispute is a difference in approach to the same problem.  Texas' current sexual offender registry is based on risk assessment; the federal law requires registration based on offenses committed.  The federal law divides offenders into three tiers based on the crimes they committed and has different registration requirements for each tier.  For example, the most severe offenders would have to renew their registration in person every three months.  Under current Texas law, sex offenders register either for 10 years or for life based on offense and risk level.

Because of the change in requirements, the number of people on the registry would "increase greatly," according to a report by the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which recommended that the state not comply with the federal law.  "There will be an enormous amount of cost to the state without enhancing public safety," said Allison Taylor, executive director for the Council on Sex Offender Treatment, a state agency that develops and implements policies regarding sex offenders.

March 8, 2011 at 06:37 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Ah yes, money talks and BS walks. Losing an extra 36 mil to implement extra punishment on people who have already been sentenced, not to mention the years of appeals and challenges in courts... smart move by Texas. Too bad Ohio had to find out the hard way that AWA was unconstitutional, that was a lot of money spent for nothing.

Posted by: tbucket | Mar 9, 2011 7:25:31 AM

As Grits for Breakfast readers learned in January, you might have added. :) That report came out two months ago.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Mar 9, 2011 9:29:13 AM

However, you can also find that some people will put up their name and number here to help them find local people to come to their shop.

Posted by: amada sleeve | Mar 9, 2011 11:26:33 AM

If the Registries are so wonderful and beneficial, how can these criminal governments even be talking about how much they cost? They need to remember their own lies. You know, it’s all for “public safety”, “protecting children”, and “if it protects one child, it’s worth it”.

But the reality is - there are many reasons why there are no other Registries (of serious, violent felons who have actually harmed children) and why we should talk about how much the SEX OFFENDER Registries cost. It’s because the Registries are cr*p and an idiotic idea. They are negligibly beneficial and not needed by responsible parents. Which might be okay for a small cost, except that the Registries are also immoral, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, anti-factual, often clearly idiotic, often illegal, anti-religious, extremely wasteful, and un-American.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Mar 10, 2011 2:30:01 PM

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