as Texas police departments buckle under the strain of monitoring an ever-growing list of offenders, experts question whether forcing juveniles and low-level offenders to register is a waste of time and resources.That's the irony here - expanding the lifetime sex offender registry to include two-bit pimps or minors who had consensual sex has meant authorities are less likely to effectively supervise more serious sexual predators. That's why for sex offenders, like the general probation population, reducing the number of offenders supervised would actually make the public safer.
With a crowded registry, they say, law enforcement officials spend too much time keeping track of low-risk sex offenders – and not enough zeroing in on the state's most dangerous predators. And there's far more opportunity for error. A Dallas Morning News investigation into the state's sex offender registry found that the database is laden with mistakes – phony or outdated addresses that allow potentially thousands of Texas sex offenders to slip through the cracks.
Don't think a bloated, unreliale database affects supervision? The News checked up on a sample from the sex offender database and found that one in six addresses were bad, and 46% of offenders could not be contacted using the information available to authorities ("Losing track of sex offenders," Oct. 1.):
The result? Vigilant parents and community groups are relying on faulty or incomplete data to protect themselves. Some homeowners are targeted as sex offenders because their addresses mistakenly appear in the database. And hundreds of the region's sex offenders are avoiding registration or filing false information with law enforcement agencies – some to hide in the crowd, others to re-offend.The sex offender registry is an example of a well-intentioned idea implemented so ham-handededly, so overzealously, that between dispersing limited police resources and conveying a false sense of security to the public, it probably makes Texas less safe. It should be rolled back to include only the most serious, violent predators - that's who the public wants protection from, not the 18 year old who banged a freshman Friday night after the football game.