But lawyers at Texas Voices for Reason and Justice , a non-profit organization that describes itself as fighting for common sense and research based policies, are trying to change that by fighting for the rights of registrants who simply want to live peacefully in their hometowns. The group has issued threats of lawsuits against small Texas towns imposing illegal and unconstitutional restraints on registered sex offenders unless they change these requirements.
Towns with populations of fewer than 5, people have different rules governing registered sex offenders than more populous areas. That matters, because in then-Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement saying general law towns do not have the constitutional authority to adopt sex offender ordinances. Some general law towns, however, have ignored this ruling and have created restrictive laws against sex offenders anyway.
When Texas Voices for Justice and Reason approached Rhome Mayor Michelle Pittman about a lawsuit earlier this year, Pittman decided it was best that her town repeal the ordinance.
Registered Sex Offender Laws
Financially, a lawsuit could have a devastating impact on such a small town. While some citizens have been skeptical of the ordinances being repealed, officials respond that a lawsuit will do more harm than good. Denton attorney Robert Gladden, who is working on filing the lawsuits with Texas Voices for Justice and Reason, believes that there are 45 Texas towns that could be affected by their size and could face future lawsuits.
Twenty-three towns have taken action to prevent lawsuits and repealed local sex offender ordinances. Because while ordinances forbidding sex offenders on the state register from living within 1,, feet of a school or playground may seem like a good way to protect kids in communities with less than 5, people, the restriction has the effect of forcing registrants out of the community.
Ordinance - Sexual Offenders | Universal City, TX - Official Website
They literally must move away from their friends, family members, and other people in their support network. Ordinances that sever offenders from positive influences can place a major roadblock in their path to recovery and rehabilitation. Besides this, more restrictive laws can actually lead to increased law-breaking and drain law enforcement resources trying to stop it.
Failing to register with the state is considered a federal crime , which means that these offenders are putting themselves at risk by breaking the law. The court might additionally place restrictions on where he can live as a condition of his probation or parole. This rule applies only to those under court supervision, but if the offender violates it, his parole or probation can be revoked.
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The exact rules for each offender depend on the specific conditions of his parole or probation. Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years.
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She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues. Reviewed by: Michelle Seidel, B. In House Arrest Rules. About the Author.
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