Sex Offender Registry in Texas: Stigma and Second Chances
Just being charged with a sex crime can cause real harm not only to the reputation of the person who has been arrested, but also to their careers, finances, family life, and personal and professional relationships. (We’ve discussed this in a prior post.)
Charges aren’t convictions. Innocent people get arrested.
It’s very sad to consider how someone who isn’t found guilty of a sex crime, particularly one involving children, can still suffer real harm just because the allegation was made.
NBA’s Alvin Robertson Cleared of Child Sex Charges This Week: Allegations Based Upon a Lie
Let’s watch what happens in Alvin Robertson’s life in the next few months. Why?
After a six year battle, ex-professional NBA player Alvin Robertson, formerly of the San Antonio Spurs, has been cleared of all charges of child sex crimes. He faced very serious allegations. Mr. Robertson had been charged with sexual assault of a child; forcing a sexual performance by a child; and trafficking a minor child for the purposes of sex.
It’s hard to think of a combination of child sex crime allegations that would be more stigmatizing than what Mr. Robertson faced.
What happened? The state’s case was doomed the minute that it was confirmed that their only witness had lied about the whole thing. That’s right.
After 6 years, the man has been vindicated. He was telling the truth all that time when he said he didn’t do it.
Will the news media spread the word that he was the target of injustice and help clear his name? Can the stigma of being arrested for serious crimes like child sex crimes be removed for Alvin Robertson?
And what about people on sex offender registries? It is not one size fits all for required registration on a sex offender registry. Different crimes and different levels of offenders at all ages can be found on a Texas sex offender registry.
Nonprofit TVRJ Fighting To End Texas Cities Controlling Where Sex Offender Registrants Live
This week, the advocacy group Texas Voices for Reason and Justice announced it is pursuing the legal repeal of municipal ordinances in 46 different Texas cities that limit where a registered sex offender can live in their town. (See below for the names of all 46 “general law” cities targeted by TVRJ here.)
The organization has not filed a lawsuit yet, but that’s the other shoe that is going to drop. Filing a formal case against each of these cities wouldn’t be a surprise now that the municipalities have been given notice.
Who is this group? From their website:
Texas Voices For Reason and Justice is a statewide, non-profit, volunteer organization devoted to promoting a more balanced, effective, and rational criminal justice system. TVRJ advocates for common sense, research based laws and policies through education, legislation, litigation, and support for persons required to register for sex related offenses as well as for members of their families.
No sexual abuse is ever acceptable.
Sex offense laws and policies should be based on sound research and common sense, not panic or paranoia.
Current laws and policies that paint all sex offenders with one broad brush are counter- productive, wasteful, and cause needless harm.
Each offense must be judged on its own merits with a punishment that fit’s the crime and does not waste taxpayer dollars.
The public sex offender registry and residency restriction laws do not protect children but instead, ostracize and dehumanize entire families.
Money spent on purely punitive measures would be better used for prevention, healing, and rehabilitation.
General Law Cities Telling Registrants Where They Can Live in Their Town
What’s going on here? These small towns have a population of 5000 or less; however, many are situated in or near larger communities (e.g., Balcones Heights is smack dab in the middle of San Antonio). Several years ago, the Texas Attorney General’s Office issued a formal AG Opinion that these “general law” cities cannot have local laws (ordinances) control where a registered sex offender can live. According to the Attorney General, this goes against the Texas Constitution.
The advocacy group is fighting to get these ordinances off the books – and not just because it’s unconstitutional. It’s also fair. Restricting where a registered sex offender lives in a neighborhood or town has never been shown to keep children safer — but it has been proven to force some families to move, and it’s doomed some registrants to homelessness.
For more on the research studies that back this up, read the Texas Monthly coverage of the story in their article, “A Texas Advocacy Group Is Targeting 46 Texas Cities Over Sex Offender Residency Laws.”
Sex Offender Registrants Fighting For A Second Chance: High Risk For Noncompliance With Reporting
There are men (and women) who are known to have behavior that will compel them to violate child sex crime laws if they are given the opportunity to do so. Granted. But this is not true for everyone who is required by law to put their name and address and contact information on a Sex Offender Registration List.
Consider juvenile offenders.
It’s known that minors who are convicted of sex crimes involving minors are not prone to repeat that crime. See, “States Slowly Scale Back Juvenile Sex Offender Registries: Research Shows A Child Convicted Of A Sex Crime, Or An “Adjudicated Delinquent” In Juvenile Court, Is Not Likely To Commit Another Sex Offense,” published in the Huffington Post on November 19, 2015.
However, if a man who was forced to register as a sex offender as a teenager, and he wants a second chance as an adult, then he’s got a legal fight on his hands. It doesn’t disappear or go away by magic.
He must go through the legal process and deal with his offender registration requirement. Read my in-depth article for how this works, “Texas Sex Offender Deregistration Synopsis: Overview And Steps For Name Removal.”
If that man tries to move away and start over without fixing that teenage registration requirement, then he risks getting caught and thrown into jail. Even if he decides to move overseas, he may not be free from the risk of arrest because he has failed to register his new location. (That’s an issue before the U.S. Supreme Court right now.)
Let’s hope that the efforts of organizations like the TVRJ are rewarded — and that Alvin Robertson finds some peace now that his name has been cleared.
Also read his article, “Top 10 Mistakes In Sexual Assault And Indecency With A Child Cases.”
Here are the 46 cities noticed by VRJ:
Archer City; Argyle; Balcones Heights; Brazoria; Bullard; Chandler; Clear Lake Shores; Cottonwood Shores; Eagle Lake; El Lago; Farmersville; Fulton; Goliad; Gunter; Hamlin; Henrietta; Hickory Creek; Hollywood Park; Hubbard; Jamaica Beach; Justin; Maypearl; Meadows Place; Milano; Mount Enterprise; Mount Vernon; Oak Point; Oak Ridge; Orchard; Ponder; Pottsboro; Rhome; Saint Jo; San Saba; Shiner; Springtown; Sunnyvale; Van Horn; West; West Lake Hills; Westworth Village; Whitewright; Whitney; Winona; Winters, and Woodville.
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