Sunday, April 26, 2015

Texas Voices standing against sex offender residency restrictions

Texas Voices, a group made up of families of people on Texas' sex offender registry and others who support reform of Texas sex offender statutes, has been quite active this session, and it's a good thing.

As Grits told their indefatigable leader Mary Sue Molnar when the organization began, every other criminal justice reform group and activist in the state, including me, will inevitably sell them out at the Legislature. When someone says of a proposal, "well, we can do that but we have to exclude sex offenders," reform advocates routinely will jump at the deal without a second thought. And in general, rightly so. One cannot succeed in legislative politics by making the perfect the enemy of the good.

And yet, what that means as a practical matter is that nobody will consistently, much less passionately stand up for the interests of people on the sex offender registry except their own family members. Not their lawyers, not the ACLU nor any other advocacy group, no legislator nor state official, and (if we're honest) not even this blog ... nobody. If Texas Voices didn't exist, a lot of bad, barely vetted bills would slide through the process without a whiff of opposition, not because they weren't recognized as bad but because those in a position to vet them made a political calculation that opposing them would harm other interests. I'm not particularly proud that that's true - it doesn't speak very well of the criminal justice reform movement in this state - but it's the way it is.

Texas Voices does not suffer from such conflicts. As their name implies, they give voice to the truly voiceless. And last week those voices were at the capitol in force to oppose draconian new sex offender residency restrictions in HB 1064 by Sheffield and HB 1872 by Murphy. I asked Mary Sue to describe the group's efforts to oppose these bad bills and she replied via email thusly:
Both HB 1064 by Sheffield and HB 1872 by Murphy are residency restriction bills. 1064 would create a statewide residency and child safe zone restriction. 1872 would allow General Law cities to adopt their own restrictions up to 1000 feet.  Both bills are based on the myth – research does not support the theory that children are likely to be victimized by strangers at places where children gather than at other places - and - there is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses or improving public safety. Additionally, over 93% of sex offenses are committed by someone who is not on the registry.

To sum it all up, there is no evidence, there are no statistics, there are no studies, and there are no reports to support the theory that residency restrictions or child safe zones improve public safety.  NONE.  In fact, research has shown that these types of restrictions do more harm than good.

We are still trying to kill both of these bills!
HB1064: The hearing for 1064 went really well.  Approximately 50 Texas Voices members attended, 7 testified ‘against’ and 2 law enforcement officers testified ‘for’ (one of which admitted to problems with the bill as written). The final witness registration tally was 42 people AGAINST HB1064 and 1 person FOR.  Here is the link to the video - Scroll to 1:24:28 to watch and be sure to watch the end at about 2:05:54.  We emptied out the room when the bill was over.  It was awesome to have so many of our members fill the room.

HB1872: I think about 4-5 people testified against and a few were for the bill. Rep. Schaefer and Rep. Elkins asked some great questions and made good points about the unintended consequences of these types of bills. Here's the link to the video. Scroll to about 3:49.
See more from Texas Voices on the residiency restriction issue.


George said...

Scott, I applaud you for the platform that you provide for people to read the truth about Texas justice issues. Having said that, to admit that "because things are the way they are" as an excuse to not support an advocacy for a group of citizens that are in dire straits is a bit disappointing.

Citizens on the sex offender registry are a cross segment of society. They are also fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, etc. There are over 86,000 registered citizens here in Texas with approx. 100 - 150 added each week. That adds up to approx. one in every 200 people you see each day on average.

How is this not a genuine civil rights issue? Because there is a little three letter word at the front of their offense? This can be compared to the treatment of people of color and gays in the not so distant past. And we are not talking about letting someone out of a crime or being soft on punishing someone who commits a sexual offense, -- everyone who commits a crime should be punished --, instead what we are dealing with is the issues after the punishment ends, after their release.

There is a mountain of statistical evidence that these "feel good" and "look at me, see I deal with these scum" laws do nothing to prevent sexual offenses. The primary reason is because over 95% of new sexual offenses are committed by someone that is not on the registry.

Scott, I commend you on your efforts dealing with justice reform. I can only hope and pray the you and others who have a strong voice will muster the courage to speak out loudly about this unjust treatment of Texas citizens. That's what true patriots and involved citizens do, when they see an injustice they speak up and work towards change.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Life is full of disappointments, George. I could blow smoke and platitudes or I can tell you the truth. You may be disappointed in the latter, but I see little benefit from the former.

That said, I see even less benefit from killing reform legislation which could otherwise pass by insisting SOs always be included. IMO it's not necessary nor wise to burn down a broader criminal justice agenda on the altar of sex offenders' civil rights. (I'd say the same thing about other hot-button culture-war issues like the death penalty and DWI.) Real-world politics - as opposed to blog-commenter politics - is the art of compromise. And that's pretty consistently a compromise one is asked to make when the legislative rubber meets the road. It's not always an issue of "courage" so much as strategy and tactics. "Do I let this bill die, even though it would help many thousands of people, or do I agree to exclude sex offenders?" What's the right choice? It's not an easy call.

I think this blog has a decent record on SO stuff, I'm just not going to pretend I haven't made exactly that compromise, or that I wouldn't again. I've told Mary Sue the same thing; it's why I'm glad they're there.

Anonymous said...

The point about residency restrictions is that this is almost totally a registrant issue (they are registrants, not sex offenders. they have done their time and are not in the act of committing a sex offense). The residency restriction issue is not tied to any other offense. However, in terms of state parole/probation, length of sentencing, early release, etc... Yes, the sex offense issue can and does mesh with those issues. And I totally support broad based reform that includes sex offenses. The fact that the media and politicians have an issue with supporting this is (indeed) why organizations such as Texas Voices are helpful and needed.

Anonymous said...

Society makes mistakes. Remember racial segregation? Those wounds have not yet healed, and have affected generations to come. Until the legislation has cleaned up that over crowded sex offender registry, they need to take a step back and stop passing laws based on the idea everyone on the registry is a child predator.

Carolyn Counterman said...

Being more of an idealist than a pragmatist, I really dislike the word "compromise". As a former volunteer lobbyist, I worked hard for a bill (not a criminal justice issue) and saw my efforts opposed by people who said they were on my "side" because they wanted to take the offered compromise. I could not do that. I could not leave anyone behind. Either we all got what we came for or none of us did. I could not look at any one of those who had been working so hard with me and tell them that I would be willing to sacrifice them to get what I wanted.

Eventually, a compromise bill was passed, and it assured that it will be many long years before an legislator in Texas wants to hear about our issues again. The basic reply is along the lines of, "Hey, we gave you something last time. Why are you still asking for things? I don't have time for this." Because our issue doesn't affect every one of their constituents or even a majority of them, they don't want to expend effort, time, or favors for us. I wasn't surprised by that. The Texas legislature meets so infrequently that you really do have to manage your time and effort well.

Sadly, those who had claimed to be on my "side" but had jumped at the chance to compromise as if it were a lifesaver acted like they had nothing to do with the end result. "Yes, I told the Senator that parts of the bill were good, but I never told him I liked the compromise." blah blah blah

All of this to say that I have been there. I know what Mary Sue is fighting against. And I have a dog in that fight now. My whole family does. And as disappointing as it might be that someone would "sell out" the sex offender population, IT IS BEYOND REFRESHING THAT ANYONE WOULD ADMIT TO IT! (Sorry, I felt that last part rather strongly.) That kind of honesty in the political arena is rare, almost unheard of. Thank you for that. Thank you very much.

Margaret Moon said...

Sorry sir, while my family, and many other families, are suffering due to laws that are passed strictly for profit or political gain, I can not admire your honesty nor your hypocritical stance.

Harry Homeless said...

There's real world politics and then there's the real world, i.e. politics does not determine reality. It may not be politically defensible, for example, to hold out for water protection at the expense of the oil industry but that makes water no less important in real life.

In the end, it's also a Pyrrhic victory to be high-fiving saying, "We'll only have 5 concentration camps instead of 10. We'll kill only half as many Jews [or poor people, sex offenders, liberals or any other group socially despised]. Ain't we great!" A half a tumor is just as deadly as a whole. So are half-measures.

Idealism may be not be politically pragmatic, but in the real world it's wholly pragmatic and the rest a fairy tale's illusion that dies with time.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Luckily, Margaret, I'm not seeking your admiration. You're entitled to your opinion. By itself, though, it will never pass legislation.

@Carolyn, you're welcome, I suppose, but I'm really not seeking approval either way. I'm describing objective reality, the way one might say "this stone weighs six ounces" or "this twig is five inches long." To fail to admit it would be like ignoring the weather.

@Harry, let's calm down and acknowledge that punishing people who committed sex crimes is different than punishing Jews who did nothing at all. I think the laws are so harsh as to be counterproductive, I disagree with residency restrictions, lifetime registration, etc.. But that false equation really can't stand and in fact discredits one's position.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Scott for the post! It’s a dog eat dog world at the Capitol but we are managing to educate as we go and believe it or not, make a few friends along the way. With our Texas bloated registry and the enormous amount of people who are added every month, it won’t be long before everyone knows someone who is registered. As for me, I’ll just pray for those who cringe at the term ‘sex offender’ and for those who think that this label could never be applied to someone they love. And when their son, or their husband, or their daughter lands on the dreaded list…….they are welcome to call Texas Voices.
Thanks again for an insightful blog!
Mary Sue Molnar
Texas Voices

Scott R said...

Scott, What you said was quite frank and I do respect that. Yes, there are criminal justice issues other than sex offenses. However, for the average sex offender who sees bill after bill submitted that are based on no empirical evidence, have no merit and are absolutely not needed, the frustration level can be enormous. Most, if not all, of the sex offense laws that have been passed were passed on myths and outright lies. If one will read the oral arguments made for these laws, one will see this quite clearly. To have someone like Mary Sue to bring sanity to this subject is truly a blessing for Texas.

There has never been, in the history of the world, any registration of any segment of society (whether for nationality, sexual orientation, religious persuasion, or any reason) that EVER resulted in anything positive. The only reason to mark a person is so that that person can be hated. It has never been, and will never be otherwise.

I thank you, Scott, for being as candid as you were in this article. I have read your other articles and have noticed that they have had a balanced approach. But balance means there are two sides to the issue, and I feel you gave insight to how you find that balance. I only wish the self seeking politicians would do the same.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this article and your viewpoint when addressing the registry and all the issues that come with it.

Sitting in on the committee hearings and listening to testimony on why a new restriction law for those placed on the registry is needed can be frustrating when the side asking for more restrictions do not base it on anything with factual reasoning or give proof of some kind of major problem that the particular bill addresses. Just another bill for some misguided politician to tout how tough they are. I find it ironic that certain legislative members who spout the constitution and bill of rights for certain issues are eager to trample on it for others.

When you talk to staff members of the legislators, their overall lack of knowledge on the subject of the registry is appalling. The ones making the laws have the least knowledge of all.

It is the reason for the need of a group like Texas Voices. A list that will have 100,000 Texans on it in the near future needs to be focused on for real reform.

Most of the current laws that are so harsh in regards to the registry were made because there was no opposition. As you mentioned there have been terrible bills that have died because of the push back that this group has made.

Bills passed for positive reform you can count on less than one hand. However, there have been many bills that were so draconian to wonder how a person could think up such things that have died in committee because of Texas Voices. Those are victories.

The education that is given to legislators sometimes one by one is also a small victory. If nothing else to keep the facts in their brain when the next hair brain bill is introduced in their committee.

The discussion here and your viewpoint towards residency restrictions and lifetime registry is another victory. Because five years ago who would have thought people would start talking logically on the subject.

However, it does get tiresome sometimes to always be playing defense. Especially when the bills of nonsense come in such rapid fire order.

My hope that by playing good defense, it will result in developing a good offense of change in the future.

Even though Scott I understand your stance in getting things in politics done. I hope that the liability of those on the registry on that reform is less each year.

I think the civil commitment fiasco is just the tip of the iceberg. As the list grows so will the burden on the state to keep up with laws that each year are proven to do nothing in regards to public safety at a very high price.

I am glad that you are there to keep these issues and all criminal justice items at the forefront and holding our elected officials accountable. Thank you for this blog. It is refreshing for a logical viewpoint in the variety of subject matter that you cover.

Anonymous said...

Person at about 1:54:27 made a great argument for enhanced crime victims compensation for families dealing with incest.

Should there be 'innocent spouse" compensation for spouses of SO's?

This is another case where the industrial prison complex causes collateral damage.

To me, the attitude of Texas is that if you are married to an SO, maybe you ought just get a divorce. The state feels no compunction to help.

Personal note: I had $40 in my bank acct, no job, two kids, husband arrested for child abuse and then fired from job that paid $100k a year and not allowed 1000 feet from home and the food stamp office here in Texas said I DID NOT qualify for help (because I owned a house, which BTW was still for sale after 6 months and
subsequently foreclosed on)

tiapa said...

Scott I applaud you for your truthfulness and I admire you honest journalism and insightful and upfront blogging. I must however agree with some of the other commentators, especially the phrase "because things are the way they are". That is an honest statement which illustrates what is frightfully wrong and how apathy got us there. We are such a young county yet we now stand as incarcerating more citizens then just about any country in history.

This is not just about sex offenders. I also agree Jews and sex offenders cannot be compared … not yet anyway. But the parallel creeping legal precedents can be compared. We all know that any law aimed at restricting a class of people will be widened and abused as time passes. The ACLU knows this and they takes heavy criticism for representing criminals in civil rights cases. What many shallow thinkers don’t realize is the ACLU defends the rights for the future and must do so riding on the backs of felons. There is almost no other way to change bad law. And now the ACLU backs away from sex offenders?

Let’s look at the Nazi’s well planned “mission creep”. Like many of our politicos the Nazis rallied the pubic with factually wrong emotional pleas. Jew haters abounded. Eventually it became politically correct to ostracize and attack Jews. Then came the yellow star and the interments, all lawfully done and supported (or ignored) by the populace.

Well guess what? As that was happening new classes were identified and rounded up and the populous could say nothing as the precedent had been set. In the prison camps the yellow star was not alone. There were patches for politicians, bible researchers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, indolent (lazy) and indolent rich, race defilers (non-Jew married to a Jew), Gypsies, Polish, Czech, and career criminals. Many of those labeled were anti-Jew Nazi supporters. They never saw it coming.

And when the liberation came the horror continued for one group, the homosexuals with their pink insignia. To quote from many places on the web, “At the end of the war, when the concentration camps were finally liberated, virtually all of the prisoners were released except those who wore the pink triangle. Many of those with a pink triangle on their pocket were put back in prison and their nightmare continued.”

Drug dealers, drunk drivers, kidnappers, and arsonists have a higher recidivism rate than sex offenders. Where is the outcry for their containment? Maybe they are next. They kill and destroy the lives of many children, many families. We already have demands for more registries. Sex offender laws are not statistically backed and we are almost rabid in increasing them. When did it become okay for politicians to knowingly lie to get votes, or at the least fail to study the facts? Is it "because things are the way they are".

All it takes is a single step over the line, the point of no return, toward despotism, and laws like the sex offender laws will swallow the politically incorrect before they can hide in the attic.

Punish crimes committed by criminals. Do not create laws that punish a class of undesirables. Laws that do so can change in the blink of a political eye and do so with precedent with the pre-approval of a complacent populous.

Grits is an astonishingly progressive blog. Your realization and public admission of being less involved then you wish to be is brave and refreshing. I look forward to future posts on these issues.

Vigilance is the key. We must be vigilant and forward thinking in regards to legislation regardless of the bad actors it is aimed at.

Debbie said...

Scott, can you please explain your apologia here for your "real politik" or whatever it is? Are you a lobbyist as well as a blogger? Bloggers, of course, can take whatever position they want to on an issue: there is not "perfect" that destroys a "good". Forgive my possible ignorance, but are you also a lobbyist? If so, can you direct me to a place on Grits for Breakfast where this is specified? Having known you in a previous life only as a journalist, I need to catch up on your current so I can put this blog into perspective.

Anonymous said...

First let begin by saying that as a ten year registrant and having attended many counseling sessions in that ten year period with many other registrants, I can say that every registrant I know has the sentiment of regret and sorrow for their victim over having committed the crime that they did would gladly take it back if they could but that is not possible; therefore, they would like to move forward in life and become a productive member of society. However, registry laws make that goal "Mission: Impossible". Registration/residency laws or "Condition X" as it is known in Texas, is like the 1976 Pittsburgh Steeler defense---with Mean Joe Green! You can't run the ball, you can't pass the ball down field, your offense is just shut down! And this is the primary purpose for Condition X, to stand in the way of registrant's progress. Think about it. This is the only thing Condition X can do. It sure as hell can't stop anyone from committing another offense---a man or woman, has to do that themself. And for the life of me I can't understand how the general public doesn't realize that and how sex offender laws only gives them a FALSE sense of security. May be that is want they want I don't but beleive me, no sex offender law can prevent anyone from committing another offense if they choose to do so. But to conclude, I would like to put forth an idea. What would be the harm in allowing a registrant to go before a judge/court to show cause why he/she should not be on the registry? It could be an adverserial process meaning the state would have their advocate there to show cause why that person should stay on the registry then let the chips fall where they may with the judge's ruling. What would be the harm in this? If proponents of sex offender laws believe in their cause then they should have no beef with such a process. Think about it.

George said...

Scott, again let me say that I respect the work that you do for Texas criminal justice issues, both as providing a platform such as this blog, and as a lobbyist for various criminal justice issues. You genuinely care about what you are doing and your candor and honesty is equally genuine.

I dare say, however, that if you are one of your loved ones landed on the sex offender registry your stance on this issue would change dramatically.

It would be one thing if the lies that most uninformed citizens believe about sex offenders were true. By now though, most informed and educated people on the subject know that these are lies, that most of the laws directed at sex offenders are based on lies. The truth is there for anyone who is interested to read.

For those who don't feel like this is a civil rights issue then they are blind to what is really going on about them. They are sheep being guided along, meekly agreeing to whatever their shepherds tell them.

I can liken the environment of Texas politics, as you describe it in your comments, as a game with a certain set of rules that one must follow in order to stay in the game. I'm certain that what you say is absolutely true. The big question I have is why does it have to be this way. Sure, I could see how it could be this way if things were the way they were back in the day when information wasn't available and the ability to communicate with others so easily and rapidly wasn't available.

This is no game for citizens on the registry or members of their family. This is as real as it gets. Tell the children of registrants that their plight in this matter doesn't really matter, we're all about "protecting the children" right?

As this number of registrants grow, I can only hope and pray that they, and their families, start getting more and more involved in stopping this madness. That would start with registering to vote, at least those that are eligible to vote, and then to become involved in the political process and standing up to proclaim that their lives do matter and that their voices will be heard. With over 86,000 on the registry and with family, that's a considerable voting bloc.

Scott, again I applaud you for your honesty and your willingness to address this, and many other, criminal justice issues. You are a genuine Texan who says it like he sees it. We welcome any help we can get in our fight towards a sane approach to dealing with registrants and their legal issues.

Thank you!

DEWEY said...

I am a veteran of the Viet Nam conflict. I am also a sex offender. Because of that, I am not eligible for veteran housing. I committed my crime in 1984, and was released in 1989, completed eleven years on parole (off in 2000). I have not re-offended, yet I am still persecuted in so many ways. I could go on and on, but this post would start taking on the aspects of a novel.

DEWEY said...

By the way, yesterday, i quietly celebrated the twenty-sixth anniversary of my release from the Texas Department of Corrup... er Corrections.

Anonymous said...

As a Law Enforcement Officer I can say without hesitation the Sex Offender Registry (SOR) has little or no value to anyone as it is used today. I have worked with Sex Offenders (SO's) and found 99% of them do not belong on a SOR. Also all studies to date show that restrictions on where they can live are of no value and are counter productive. The main issue is that most of these laws are pasted based on gut feelings and hopes that the law if passed will get votes for those who support them. Sorry just the way I see it. As for the writer having to take what he can get he is right, you can only do so much. I have tried. But the real victims of these laws the sex offenders need to come forward in masses to fight these laws. I know it is hard to come out and fight because you are on the SOR but you must or they will keep passing these laws. If you can not come out yourself get a family member to come out. And work with your ACLU and make them work to get changes it is happening slowly all accross the USA.

Anonymous said...


You said "@Harry, let's calm down and acknowledge that punishing people who committed sex crimes is different than punishing Jews who did nothing at all."

You're probably aware there are two different legal systems at work in the US: 1) Criminal and 2)Civil.

The purpose of the Criminal system can be summed up as "punishment."

However, the registration, registry, employment, etc. restrictions are formed under the aegis of the Civil system which is supposed to be concerned with the "public good" and not with "punishment."

The whole basis of the Supreme Court ruling allowing retroactive registration requirements rested on the fact that the registration laws were not punitive and to paraphrase one of the justices were no different that having a membership card to a big discount box store (Costco, or Sams club.)

Allowing the Civil legal system to be twisted to become punitive in nature undermines the very basis of our society. If you want to support laws for "punishing" sex offenses, then toughen the Criminal laws, don't play games with the Civil laws and say it's ok because sex offenders deserve more punishment."

If you want to use/support Civil laws, then prove the point that there is an actual positive gain to the public that outweighs the rights being denied your fellow citizens. If you want residency restrictions, show a positive correlation with reducing crime rates. You allow all citizens rights to be undermined when you allow rights to be denies for no positive benefit to society and only for political expediency!

When the "good of society" is allowed to be whatever wins a politician more power/votes or what allows some group of citizens to feel better without providing any scientifically provable benefit to society, you're heading down a slippery slope that leads to segregated seating, tiered levels of civil rights, and yes even to holocausts!

He's Innocent said...

@11:36 the LEO, Holy Cow!

How refreshing to hear an active LEO say the things you did in your post. I only wish you could fight with us Texas Voices members publicly, and in uniform. What a shame you cannot. You, and your enlightened views, might actually have some impact.

As the spouse of a former LEO, and now lifetime registrant who was railroaded with 3 pictures he did not knowingly possess, I understand your inability to come forward. I will admit that it pains me to know that most LEO's will gladly treat my husband with disrespect he did not earn. They do not know his story. This is what we fear, the jack ass cop he runs across and the power that LEO has over my husband and me. Fabricated reasons for arrest abound all too often in this country.

My husband was an excellent cop who mourns the career he loved. However, he also sadly admits that he could no longer be a cop. He would not be able to abide by the "Take No Prisoners" tactics that are all to common nowadays. We have discussed what could possibly be useful to a street cop to know that the person he is interacting with is an SO? There are very, very few valid reasons.

In place of that law enforcement career, he has learned a new profession via another SO and he loves it. That new skill will allow him the time to join me, Mary Sue, and Texas Voices to fight not only for the civil rights of SO's and their family members, but for the civil rights of others yet to be sucked into the hysterical witch hunt that most sexually natured crimes have become.

On another point, a poster above is correct about mission creep. A new registry is surely around the corner and you or a loved one will land on it. I promise. Rep. Jessica Farrar - of whom I am a fan in general, tho not my rep - proposed a bill this year for a public registry of animal abusers. At first blush, it seems to be a good idea. However we come around again to wonder, What The Hell Good Will That Do for the Next Abused Animal?

We will prevail, some day, some how. I relish the day that Texas Voices finally is able to gain the support from a political leader who is brave enough to take up our cause. Future registrants should be thankful when/if that comes. There will be THOUSANDS more registrants added to the list before someone with guts DOES stand up to support us.

In the meantime, how many children, spouses, and family members of this class of unwanted people will suffer the permanent push to the edges of society? I call it SOCIAL DEATH.

It is an ugly concept, but this nation is careening quite quickly towards adding many, many classes of people to permanent unwanted status.

Anonymous said...

They do what they want so they live where they want. They do what they want to who they want some target children and some like other victims.

Anonymous said...

I am, primarily, a sex offender law reform activist. There are some things I am willing to compromise on, for the sake of moving forward. However, there are some things I will not compromise on. If someone told me that I could have the registry gone or confined to access by law enforcement only, but only by making a public registry of drug dealers, murderers or arsonists, I would not do it. The registry is wrong, not just for current registrants, but for everybody always.
However, if someone told me that we could get some of the current crop of registrants off the SOR, but not all, I would support that removal, as long as it did not require any new categories to be added to the registry.
All the facts listed by your commentators concerning statistics are true, including that over 95% of all new sex offenses charged each year are charged to someone who has never been charged with a sex offense before. That one, by itself, should motivate those in the criminal justice reform movement to at least call for further reforms in the area which affects registrants. We should all keep in mind that any law which punishes someone for something they might do (in only one out of 20 cases) can easily be expanded to include other groups which are more likely to recidivate.
Utah has a white collar crime registry in the works; New York has a drug dealer registry in legislature, with Massachusetts and Michigan looking into it; Connecticut and Virginia are looking at domestic violence registries; and animal abuse registries are also being discussed in New York and elsewhere.
We have allowed a group of people who committed illegal acts (such as teen sexting or consensual teen-on-teen sex, btw) to be put on a public shaming list, and now look at what we are creating. I don't know, maybe I should be pushing for ALL former offenders to be on one large criminal registry, just as long as they have committed a crime. Then, at least, it would be harder to find, remember and persecute those who are on the sex offender registry now.
That's a compromise I might be able to live with.

Anonymous said...

"...over 95% of all new sex offenses charged each year are charged to someone who has never been charged with a sex offense before."

I don't believe that for a minute.

Anonymous said...

to 9:11

That's because for some people, beliefs matter more than facts.

And for people to whom beliefs matter more than facts, all the reports, research, statistics, and empirical evidence in the world wouldn't be enough to change their belief.

People for whom beliefs matter more than facts are how we got into this whole mess to begin with.

As Grits has said many times on this blog (and my apologies, Grits, I don't mean to imply that you agree with this particular stance): "Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts."

Scott R said...

Anonymous said...

"...over 95% of all new sex offenses charged each year are charged to someone who has never been charged with a sex offense before."

I don't believe that for a minute.
Seriously? This isn't just some pie in the sky statistic pulled out of thin air. This is an actual documented and well known FACT that is not, and has not been any secret. Sex offense therapists and others will be the first to admit this FACT. Truly, it is so well known that I am amazed that anyone would question it. Of course, that has been said about some of the sex offender MYTHS, such as: Sex offenders have the highest recidivism rate of any crime (proven to be totally erroneous.. their recidivism rate is one of the LOWEST), or Sex offenders cannot change (proven wrong by the low recidivism rates). The facts and statistics stand for themselves. If a person chooses not to believe them, then there is nothing that can be done about willing ignorance.

Anonymous said...

You can certainty get away with your "over 95% of all new sex offenses" statement on Grits for Breakfast but I wouldn't try to peddle that anywhere else.

sunray's wench said...

For those who want facts.

Report from 2004 (Australia):

Report from 2004 (Canada):

Report from 2013 (UK):

The final paragraph of the cover text of this one states:

"A large majority of offenders sentenced for sexual offences each year had not previously been cautioned or convicted of a sexual offence - over 80 per cent in each of the last seven years. Around four per cent of those convicted had five or more previous cautions or convictions for a sexual offence and, in 2011, just under 80 per cent of those people received a custodial sentence. Of those convicted of rape in 2011 who had five or more previous cautions or convictions for a sexual offence, nearly all (97 per cent) received a custodial sentence."

I can't find anything newer than 1994 for the US though.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:11 troll terrorist....... Getting away with 95% on this blog?... You must not read this blog very much at all. Grits would be the first to correct if that were not accurate and fact based.

Anonymous said...

Law enforcement knows the figure is 95 percent. The DOJ knows the figure is 95 percent. They are the some of the ones that sponsored the studies to begin with. The politicians know.. the therapists know. In other words, the ones that matter know and admit it. Who cares what one insignificant person who is either too lazy to research the info, or has an IQ so low that they don't know how to do the research. It must be one of the two, since the facts are the facts, and are stated throughout the media almost daily.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

re: "Grits would be the first to correct ..."

Not really, I don't/can't correct all erroneous blog comments, and certainly not "first"!

In this case, I don't know if it's 95, 97, or 93, but you're in the ballpark as I understand it. It's the main reason the registry is more show horse than work horse.

Anonymous said...

people in the media,politician,blogs and the every day person need to get involved finding out the truth about sex offenders and how they gotten on the day it may be one of their family member or themselves ..lies,consensual,touching,texing,online,urinating on a tree,playing doctor,show me yours i'll show you mine,and the list goes one ,on the way aperson may get on the registry..even if you have three dwis then go to prison for two years.on release from prison they were palced on the sex offender registry,a woman kidnaped her some from his abusive father .law enforcement are trying so hard to charger her as a sex offender.these sex offender laws has gotten so far out of and it isn't funny.around 95% of all the resources to keep up with all the sex offenders ,are spent on keeping up with the none violent offeders.mean time the violent offenders slip through the cracks.if and when the violent offender offends again.then our law makers jump to making more restrictions harsher punishments for all registered offenders,for what one person matter if all the others are doing the things they were suppose to,while on probation , they are punished,once again for what others has done.this one law fits all that texas and all other states has,is responsible for the harm of children,teens and young matter if someone had consensual sex or violently rape someone ,they would get the same punishment ,life time on the registry..if our lawmakers are truly willing to do what ever it takes to make our children safe.may I suggest changing our laws to,if it's your first time offence,then pass a law that would send the male and the female to two to three years of counseling..this way these offenders that has a serious disorder,or problems ,would be determined by these counselors.the offender or offended is determined having a problem .then the one or ones with the problem could get the help they need .the way it is now ,just lock'em up and throw away the key.the female would still need help.(this only a very few).this is a problem that all americans needs to get involved in,because it could be you or your loved one,one day ..we want what is right ,punish for what a person dose not for what others do.common sense ,good research,and the will(courage) to do what is right ..then all children would be a lot safer.a lot of descent young men could live a normal life.(and their families)thank you grits .we respect you for your honesty.

Anonymous said...

All that talk of sex offender recidivism is just that - talk. There is very little or no recidivism so let's all admit that, get behind that idea (5% recidivism)and start focusing on the real problem - how the police treat so called sex offenders.

We don't know if it's 95, 97, or 93, but we're in the ballpark as we understand it.

Jan said...

Texas Voices: I wish I were there with you all. My Thoughts and Prayers are with you. Mary
Sue, I miss you!

tiapa said...

For those looking for published, non-academic statistics then go to the real deal, the Texas DPS website here:

Chapter 7 Sexual Assault, covers Offense information collected on six sexual assault categories: Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child, Indecency with a Child by Contact, Indecency with a Child by Exposure, Sexual Assault, Aggravated Sexual Assault and Sexual Performance by a Child. (Note: This does not include rape)

Some interesting statistics from the these DPS reports:

Of the 18,612 victims of sexual assault in 2013 only 17.56% were strangers to the offender. 82.44% of sex offenders knew their victim. Sure doesn't jive with the claims that SO's are roaming the streets ready to snatch your kid.

The age group that commits the most sexual assaults are 15-19 year old children. What? Why is that? What is the actual problem, what is the actual cause?

74.67% or 14,675 sexual assaults occur in Residence/Homes. Schools/College account for only 2.31% or 454 sexual assaults. So much for child safety zones!

This is the Texas Government Statistics, the "real" data that the log should be looking at.

There is an interesting anomaly in this data, one that appears to be a manipulation of the fact. Follow with me. In the Appendix for these reports there is a Glossary. Here you will find this definition:
"Personal Weapon – The use of hands, feet, fists and teeth as a weapon to commit a crime; also termed strongarm weapon."

In Chapter 5, Family Violence there are descriptions of weapons used in family violence crimes. Two of the categories are Strong Arm (see Personal Weapon above) at 80% and “None” at 7%. The Glossary describes this: “The most common weapon involved in family violence cases was physical force through the use of hands, feet, and fists (strong¬arm), which accounted for 80 percent of the incidents. The Texas Family Violence law considers the use of threats and intimidation to be serious enough to report and, thus, 7 percent of the reports were listed as involving no weapons.

To repeat, physical force or Personal Weapons (hands, feet, fists, teeth, strongarm) accounts for 80% and no physical force or weapon accounts for 7%.

Yet in Chapter 7, Sexual Assault, the report states “The most common weapon involved in sexual assault cases was physical force through the use of personal weapons, which accounted for 93 percent of the incidents. There is no “None” category It is well know that sex crimes are mainly crimes of fear, manipulation. threats, and intimidation. (Which is reported as “None” at 7% in the Family Violence report). With 74.67% of Sexual Assaults occurring at home with a victim known to the offender should we really believe that 80% of the assaults were committed with strongarm tactics?

An “aggravated” crime is a crime committed with a weapon. This manipulation of the data illustrates why the bulk of sex offenders crimes are elevated to “aggravated”. Sex offenders don’t even have a “no weapon” category, and that would be the majority category.

Anonymous said...

Some say "free range children." We say "free range sexual offenders." said...

ANON@5/01/2015 10:27:00 AM

Not sure what you mean. Who is we? Never heard of "free range children." Does anonymous mean "free range chicken"?

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jesusa martinez said...

Thank God for Texas Voices, i do say if the law saves an innocent child then I am all for it. I do believe that it is on a case by case basis thou not every situation but the way the laws are written even those that want this, it will eventually touch every family somehow someway and then it will be understood.