About 3,600 people on the state's registry were added as juveniles, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which administers the registry. Eleven were 10 years old when they registered.A requirement in the federal Adam Walsh Act to increase juvenile registration to 25 years after the offense was one of the balking points that caused Texas to request an extension for compliance, the paper reports: “We're not sure if we're ready to pass the Adam Walsh Act,” said Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Registration “should be left up to the states.” That federal legislation would eliminate discretion currently enjoyed by Texas judges to remove well-behaved juveniles from the registry or to waive registration at sentencing.
The registry has 26 juveniles who are currently 13 to 16 years old, according to state records. Of the more than 340 juvenile registrants who live in Harris County, three are currently 16 years old, records show.
Many people are not aware that juveniles can be registered as sex offenders in Texas. State legislators made registration mandatory for adults and juveniles when they established the sex offender registry in 1991. Texas does not have a minimum age for juvenile registration, but the minimum age for prosecution is 10. ...
Juvenile registration has been debated by lawmakers, child advocates and crime victim proponents for the past decade. Those who support it contend the community has a right to know about dangerous sex offenders — adult or juvenile. Critics argue that the negative consequences on juveniles and their families far outweigh any benefits to the community. No research suggests registration makes communities safer, they said.
Access to court records for juveniles with delinquent backgrounds are generally restricted to protect them from shame and to give them a fresh start. But anyone can access the state's online sex offender registry and see the juvenile's criminal charge. The registry, which went online in 1997, also makes available the juvenile's address, where he attends schools and annual mug shots.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sex offender registration applies scarlet letter to juveniles
The Houston Chronicle today has a feature on the issue of juveniles in the state sex offender registry. Juvenile sex offenders must remain on the registry 10 years after the end of their sentence. Reports the Chron ("A long wait to get past crime," Sept. 21):