Sunday, January 04, 2009

Alonzo bill would let judges pare sex offender rolls

Reacting to concerns that the sex offender registry includes too many low-level offenders and may increase recidivism, a Dallas state rep wants to give judges discretion to shorten sex offender registration periods for certain first-time offenders.

Declaring "Some offenses don't rise to the level" of needing registration, Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, has filed HB 190, reports the Houston Chronicle's Texas Politics blog, which:
would give certain first-time sex offenders the ability to petition the courts to shorter their registration periods, or to have their registration completely waived . The vast majority of sex offenders in Texas must register on the state's Department of Public Safety website for life.
Alonzo "filed his bill at the request of a Dallas judge who was fed up with low-risk offenders brought in on technical violations tying up the court's docket," said the Texas Politics blog, which quoted the new group Texas Voices praising the legislation. Via Kuff.

RELATED: From Doc Berman:
For anyone trying to keep track of what's going on state-by-state, the Vera Institute of Justice recently published these two essential documents for policy-makers: The Pursuit of Safety: Sex Offender Policy in the United States (available here) and Treatment and Reentry Practices for Sex Offenders: An Overview of States (available here). In addition, academics should remember that the latest issue of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law includes a symposium on sex offender law and policy.

32 comments:

marysue said...

Although Rep Alonzo's bill is "a very good start", the bill, as structured, will not provide any type of relief for low-risk, no -risk offenders who are already on the dreaded list. The label of "sex offender" has been over-used and communities are now lees safe. Bottom line: Not all so-called "sex offenders" are dangerous, violent predators. Resources are wasted prosecuting, incarcerating, and monitoring thousands of Texans who pose no threat to public safety. "Sexual Mis-conduct" would appropriately describe a good portion of offenses now listed as "Sexual Assault of a Child". There is a huge difference between a 60 year old man who molests his 6 year old niece and a 20 year old young man who has consensual sex with his 16 year old girlfriend. Thank God Alonzo and "the judge" are making an attemp to differentiate.

Anonymous said...

I agree with marysue that at least it's a start in the right direction but alas, she's also right that it would not "cover" anyone on the list NOW (there are thousands of no-risk offenders there that should never have been put ON the list in the first place!) I pray these lawmakers become smarter and more sensible in their approach and re-invest in the Wetterling Act - the ONE law that actually made sense. All these other laws encompass WAY too many people, even people who chatted online! Ridiculous!

dianna said...

A lot of people on the sex offense registry only committed a 'misdeamer' not a felony, at the most. Two young persons touching over the clothing, or accidently even (help getting a drunken younger peer clothed), are not Dangerous Crimes(!); these people are being tried,convicted, put on probation or even in prison, for Silly, Crimeless Things Like These! Even falsely Accused People have No Way to defend themselves, so They wind up being on the Sex Offender Registry also, all for Nothing...bills to Change this Madness are Much Needed.

Roseann said...

I totally agree! I only recently found out that the sex offender registry was terribly "watered down". There are an overwhelming number of people listed. How are we supposed to identify the really dangerous pedophiles???
I dont feel safe with it as it stands. The laws need to be revised.

Anonymous said...

I too agree with marysue and the others who follow. The overwhelming posting of "low risk" offenders is basically a blind for the actual dangerous offenders with risk of re-offending. The sad thing to realize is that these young offenders are being prosecuted by the judges and DA's who were doing almost the same thing when they were younger. So now we have the pot calling the kettle black. What is even worse is students are not taught these laws in school, we cram their brains with sex education and protecting theirselves against STD's and AIDS and give them free condoms, but never the risk of ruining your life, and becoming a sex offender by having sex with your highschool girlfriend. So now you have an 18 year old senior in highschool dating a 15 year old freshman and they become intimate in their relationship, then the parents find out. Now you have an 18 year old Senior who is a felon and a registered sex offender before he even graduates. Now he is riding a bus to prison instead of going off to college. Or then again no chance to ever serve his country in the military because he has a background now and is labeled as a Sex Offender. This is a very sad society we live in these days. It's almost a setup for these young teen adults. That's just my two cents. I hope they do change the laws. Protect our young teen adults from having this nightmare haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Anonymous said...

As a law enforcement officer called on to monitor sex offenders quarterly in my area, I agree that resources are wasted when true predators and rapist are not differentiated from those young adults who committed sexual acts with a willing teenage partener. The registry needs to focus on the truly dangerous in order for it to be of any benefit to safety at all.

jan said...

I have been researching TX counties looking for SO's who were under the age of 25 and within a few years of their "victims" when convicted of a "sex offense." There are far more of these cases than most taxpayers realize. I simply do not understand what interest the state has in prosecuting these cases as if these cases were of a violent and predatory nature. What I do understand is the devastating effects this is having on individuals and their families. We have too too many BOYS sitting in prison because they were unable to meet the terms of probation for sex offenders. Many of these boys had promising futures ahead of them. Now, these boys will be lucky if they can support themselves once out of prison. Our jails are full of these BOYS awaiting their fate after having had consensual sex with a younger teen. We must insist our lawmakers act NOW to stop this senseless destruction of young lives and to offer some relief to those who are listed on the registry who are of no risk to anyone. I am very thankful for Representative Alonzo's courage to tackle such a POLITICAL issue. He is on the right track!

Anonymous said...

I applaud Rep. Alonzo for authoring and submitting such a sensible bill. I agree that it is a very good start. However, as Mary Sue stated, it will not benefit those no-risk offenders who are already on the registry. There is a tremendous need to overhaul the sex offender registry laws in the state of Texas and now is the time to do this. The registry is so bloated presently that one cannot determine if the registrant down the street presents a genuine danger to the community or not. It is my hope that Rep. Alonzo will amend his bill making it retroactive so that any and all "no-risk" registrants will be allowed the opportunity at the courts decretion to be removed from the registry. This will make for a more informed as well as a safer public.
Thank you "Grits for Breakfast" for writing and publishing this important and informative article.
Keep up the good work.

BJ said...

I could not agree more with all the comments here. This bill is a start but does not even begin to tackle the depth of the problem. The registry should be for those who commit any sexual acts against children (not consenting teens) or forced acts against anyone. All others should be allowed to petition to be removed or never placed on the registry in the beginning. Valuable resources are being wasted as well as lives ruined for something many lawmakers themselves have done as young adults.

Anonymous said...

Finally common sense in sex offender legislation. Let's only use the registry for police agencies and keep it for dangerous criminals as it was intended. Stop ruining young boys' lives, let them get decent jobs, pay taxes and raise families without shame and not in fear. They deserve to contribute to society. Stop crippling them and sentencing them to lives of poverty where the cycle of government interference is perpetuated. Amend the proposal to make it retroactive to those who have suffered for so long. Give them an opportunity to be free.

Anonymous said...

A law enforcement officer told me recently that the attorney general's office has redirected funds to certain counties to prosecute all sex offender cases. If this is true then someone should be exposing the attorney general's office and agenda. What does the attorney general's office gain from this.

Anonymous said...

As the parent of a teen boy indicted for a romeo and juliet crime, I am devastated at the loss of his future. He is treated like a rapist or pedophile by the probation officers who are supervising him prior to trial. The restrictions have forced him to move from our home, drop out of school and yet his girlfriend was only "grounded". Where is the justice? I am angry and embarrassed to be a Texan today.

Anonymous said...

We need more people like Mr Alonzo and the judge thats at least trying to get change even though it wont help the ones thats already on the list it a start and with Gods help maybe there will be more people to see whats really going on with this SO laws .our young boys is not a danger to anyone and dont deserve to be put on a list where true pedophiles are .it dont make anyone safer and only makes it to where we dont know who the true ones are .change is well needed and soon .

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the good rep. did not make THIS bill retroactive, when all of the punitive laws do that as a standard. Second, maybe now, they will allow all those on the registry without a conviction to be allowed the freedom from follow-on persecution that they were promised they signed that 'deal'.

Anonymous said...

The net was widened out of fear and stupidity. It's time to reign in this stupidity.

TJDO

Anonymous said...

KUDOS to TEXAS VOICES and to YOU, GRITS for allowing them the opportunity to be heard.

"Romeo and Juliet" BOYS that have to register are NOT sex offenders that the public need fear. It is unbelievable the impact this has on families and innocent CHILDREN.

The laws need to be changed and Texas is a good place to start.

Children are aware of their sexuality at a much earlier age today, girls as well as boys. Talk to an 8th grade principal! Girls should be held just as accountable as boys in my opinion.

Keep the faith TEXAS VOICES. We're better together!

David said...

As a parent of an EVIL RSO as the politicians see them. Any law that will change how this is address is welcomed. This set up is just this a "Set Up" quite a cottage industry for lawyers and therapist. Oh and lets not forget the money the counties make off the backs of these young kids and their families. It's a SCAM made by SCAMMERS we have to call our legislators. Wake up folks the fight is on.

Scared said...

Cynical, people say I have become just this about the law. Let me explain why I have become "Cynical". As a father of a son that at the age of 17 was adjudicated then label as an RSO for the next 20 yrs. All from accusations and coached testimony. Lets just say what if someone decides to put the fix in on me. Just the accusation alone scares the hell out of me. I will be guilty for sure. After all they will think, his son is a RSO, you know "Like Father like Son!! That is where the son learned it from, Right!

stryker said...

This bill is good but would be better if it was ammended and made retroactive for all those rso's on the list now. Not only would it save a ton of taxpayer's money that is wasted on a system that is gone way overboard, in the name of making society safer, when it does just the opposite. Then there is the part where it ruins the rso's life and their FAMILIES lives by denying jobs and housing, and many other constitutional freedoms that the rest of the country enjoys. To give a RSO a second chance would be devine and let them prove they can once again be a productive member of society. They could do this if they were not subject to the continuous punishment placed upon them by these UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAWS.

Delores said...

A person can murder someone, go to prison, do their time, then they are free. An 18 year old boy can have consensual sex with a younger teen and is branded "sex offender" for life. When that 18 year old boy turns 55, his victim will still be "14". The registry is punitive, destructive and is doing nothing to keep our children safe. I don't even have a son on the registry and I am furious. Heck, I don't have a son. I'm angry these laws come down to money and easy prosecution I'm angry at the lawyers who will charge families $30,000 knowing good and well they will convince these boys to take the standard plea w/deferred adjudication, which in itself is a complete misconception. How about all those boys who are now men who were given deferred adjudication 15years ago and have successfully completed probation, but have since learned they can't get off the registry? Why aren't the prosecutors and lawyers being upfront about this instead of misleading boys to believe they will be able to get off the registry? I'm angry at the treatment providers and probation officers who are acting unethical and attempt to violate these boys in anyway they can. Or, what about when a leading forensic psychologist who is a licensed treatment provider evaluates a kid and determines they are of low (no) risk and should not be required to register or required to attend the sex offender treatment classes, but the "county's" treatment provider/probation officer determines otherwise (over and again)it sure looks like it might be more about the money than public safety. Those classes are $30 + per week, not to mention the polygraphs required 2 to 4 times a year for RSO's. All done through the county of course. Then, figure in the federal funding each county receives per RSO. Hmmm, sure seems to be alot of $$$$ made on the backs of these boys.

This might be a start from Rep Alonzo, but it isn't enough. Get these Romeos out of prisons, out of jails, and off the registry and stop this senseless destruction of lives.

sunray's wench said...

Delores said: "A person can murder someone, go to prison, do their time, then they are free. "

I absolutely support all the points made about the boys on the SO registry, but I just wanted to make the point that in Texas, anyone with a conviction that has been to prison is faced with over 100 laws that deny them the right to work. Not only that, but of those who go to prison for murder or any other crime, statistically will almost certainly lose all contact with their families and friends by the end of 5 years. So no matter what they have been inside for, they have no support or help when (or if) they are reseased.

Like I said, I fully support the changes to the SO registry, but criminal justice in Texas is so vindictive and rotten, the whole thing needs looking at from top to bottom.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of the comments.There are so many young men whose lives have been destroyed by these unfair laws.Thank goodness that Rep Alonzo is trying to make a change for the better.

Anonymous said...

Everyone here is right on in their thinkg and comments. It is time that some common sense took over in our legislation.

Anonymous said...

Anyone here ready for lawsuits challenging the sex offender laws and the registry? I KNOW I AM
CC

Anonymous said...

For those that say save only the near age SO's, I call you hypocrites.

The Sex Offender registry is wrong, period. I for one find it offensive, degrading, and mean-spirited in its meaning and form. What other group of person's convicted or not is placed in such a situation where they are so completely vilified as never again to be able to become a worth-while member of society?

We currently have people on the registry that were convicted of heinous crimes against women and children. For those people, make the registry part of their sentence while in jail, prison, etc. If you feel that they warrant incarceration of great lengths, then fine, put them away for longer periods. This is what the criminal process is for! For those that are placed on community supervision, let them be on the registry as well. But when both are released, they should be treated the same as anyone else. They should be given the second chance that ALL other criminals are given.

For the person who states that a murderer that is set free has undue restrictions placed on them I beg to differ. My brother was released after 17 years for the charge of manslaughter. With the exception of not voting, and gun ownership, he is absolutely free to do as he pleases, work where he wants, and live where he wants. He took a life, but is now allowed to rejoin society.

We have over 6000 people on the registry that were never convicted of the crime. yes, they accepted a plea deal, and they did community supervision, but they were not convicted, and all charges were dismissed, including the indictment. Yet, they will spend the rest of their lives on the registry. So don't give me crap about one population should remain on the registry when another is allowed off. The use of a public registry to shame, vilify, or ostracize any citizen of the United States goes against the over all ideal that the founding fathers put into place. Freedom is not a 'gift'. It is a guarantee and promise given to us by the founding members of our government. It is not something that anyone but they should be able to take away.

Anonymous said...

Grits,
These atudies are great and all that, but lets face it. If there is no hope from moving away from the stigma attached vindictively by the states and federal government then who really cares how well sex offenders do as a whole when they complete their sentences. I mean honestly, let's look at this from a reality based perspective.

You shoot someone, or you stab them in the leg and let them bleed to death. It still doesn;t matter they both die. With SO's it is the same thing. according to this study only 12.3 percent sexually re-offend. Although Meta-data research has been proven un-trustworthy, lets that that number. We have 636,000 people on the registry. if 12.3 (approx 52,000 people)percent re-offend that means we have 584.000 people on a registry that never intend, nor will ever re-offend. Half a million people continuously being punished for crimes that their time has been paid for.

On the other hand. Every person convicted of murder/manslaughter that leaves prison is allowed to go back to life without so much as being asked their phone number, or anyone that beat their wife silly, or drove drunk and risked others lives.. Not one other classification of people are so restricted from their private liberties promised them by the Constitution of the United States than registered sex offenders. yet they are the second lowest group to re-offend.

So what are we doing? we don't have the Ruskies to hate, and the Arabs seem to roll over if you hit them hard enough.. SO I guess we punish our own citizens for a few hundred years, until someone gets a clue that men don't have womb envy, and women don't have penis envy, and that the story being told isn't quite as it is painted.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that when a bill further penalyzes offenders, it is fine, but when a good bill like this one comes out, it has to be limited? Why cant it be made ex-post facto like the others? Be fair.

Manny said...

I hope and Pray that this Alonzo Bill passes! Back in 1993 I was 33 and this prostitute was 24, I picked her up and I did not pay for her service so she call the police on me, took down my car plate number and later on I got arrested for sexual assualt! This prostitute had a rap sheet as long as a street, she never got charged for nothing, I got a ten year sentence and have to be on the registry for life. I have never had a sex crime before or after, and DPS has me down as a low moderate sex offender. Today I am 48 years old, with a great life, great job, so I hope this Bill passes so I can go on with my life without having to be on the DPS registry.

Anonymous said...

I also hope & pray this Alonzo bill passes & passes quickly before yet another life is lost to the judges & D.A.'s that have a quota to meet. My husband also accepted the "plea" of Attempted Sexual Assault back in 1982 when he was 22 & she was 21. It was consentual but daddy would no longer pay her apartment & college if she continued to see my husband. She agreed with daddy & low and behold a young 22 year old man, scared, beat up from the small town police dept with no money to defend himself accepts a "plea". They gave him 10 years probation & all this sex offender classes. Unfortunately the sex offender B.S. had just begun and the state really didn't know how to treat a sex offender. They wanted him to take a test where they would show him pictures of small children all the while attaching some wire(s) to his private area to see if it would arouse him. He was appalled at such a thing & went before the judge & told him that he could not comply with their sex offender program as it made him sick. The just gave him a 10 year prison sentence. He said he did it because of principal. He did his time, got out, met me and I got him an apartment close by so that when he was going back & forth to take care of his mother (who had both ankles broken, 1 hour & 45 minutes away) he could get rest. I thought I was doing him a favor when I pretty much set him up for "failing to register as a sex offender" even though the apartment was rented by myself. Needless to say he was given an 8 month state jail sentence only after paying an attorney over $20K to get such a reduction & after a year long appeal. We were married after the apartment incident and all I could do was hurt for this man that is such a loving husband & step dad to see the pain he has endured. I know the truth to the entire process as I had the court records copied & certified for the appeal attorney. He is not a threat to society in anyway and will have to keep doing the sex offender classes weekly until he is off parole. This is a sad society we live in. He gets up every day and works. Luckily for him, he is self employed and has a way to earn good money all the while being a "danger to society" according to the website.
We must stand up for this bill to help protect any others that may be faced with this sort of thing. There needs to be classification of sex offenders other than "low/high" risk because in my opinion he is NOT a sex offender that anyone needs to be worried about. It wasn't with a child & it was consentual. Why do sex offenders have a public registry after doing their time when there is no DWI registry? I am more afraid of someone that is drinking & driving than I am of a sex offender living down the street. Or someone that has burglary of habitation. Why aren't they on a public registry to warn the neighbors that billy bob & susie q live down the street & might come into my home without authorization? Let's keep the faith and follow this bill through.

Anonymous said...

I am the mother of a young man serving 10 years for consensual teenage sex. What angers me the most is the fact that when he turns 50, it will look like a 50 year old had sex with a 17 year old when in actuality, he was 19. Most don't look at when the actual event took place, they just jump to conclusions. His "victim" and I use that term loosely, had numerous sexual partners but since my son decided to have nothing more to do with the "victim", the parents were told and then he was prosecuted. This is so wrong. I just wonder when America is going to wake up. I hope this bill passes and if we need a registry, then let's put the most dangerous on it, whether they committed a sex crime, murder, or dealt in drugs. I for one, however, don't see a need for any type of registry. If they have done their time, then leave them alone unless they commit another crime. It's time for us to take a stand and let our representatives and senators know how we feel about this.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Online Solicitation charge leads to Sex Offender Registration. Great entrapment process passed by our legislators. Here, the detectives are allowed to pretend to be underage and lure men. But the person being charged cannot defend himself by saying it was a fantasy or he was just pretending. In this case, no minors need be involved to get a Online Solicitation of a Minor charge.

Anonymous said...

why should a chlid be punhished ,for a crime they did not commit.a mother tells her child to work and support her and 2 other siblings ,plus her excon husband.when the child refuses,she stops his meds. and files bougs charges against the child.she claims the minor child owes her ,their life .because she had him.but she never raised the child.the child has lots of medical problems.why does the court systum,allow this to happen.how can they call this justus.and ruin this childs life ,because of this kind of mother. anonymous/angry