Texas Voices hard at work in Austin

By Scott Henson . . . 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.

(Republished from Grits for Breakfast)

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8 Thoughts to “Texas Voices hard at work in Austin”

  1. AvatarD.

    Do you have any information on new parole laws for sex offenders that have passed or are there any waiting to be passed?

    Would appreciate any information on parole for sex offenders.

    Thank you in advance,

  2. AvatarGrandma

    Texas Voices launched a herculean effort this legislative session to bring some common sense to the issues that face ‘registrants’ in Texas. Hopefully, Texas Voices highlighting these issues brings’ some’ legislators to a more educated and thoughtful position in their thinking. At a minimum it makes them more aware.

    Sadly, family of the ‘registrants’ should be included in the statistics of those affected by the laws that are in place. By association the families rights are violated as well. That is unconstitutional.

    As we all know, many other states are evolving on the registrant issue and seeing the unfairness and unconstitutionality as it is applied. Case law will resolve some of these convicts. We can pray for that sooner rather than later.

  3. AvatarEd

    I am on the registry and have been since 1997. I live near a park and there are kids all around me. What I did almost twenty years ago was a very bad mistake on my part and I have graduated from court ordered Therapy and counseling in the state of Virginia. I have never re-offended nor do I ever intend too. I only want to live the rest of my life in peace with my loved ones. I took responsibility for what I did and I paid my dues. But I continue to live in a state of fear. Because of those vigilantes out there. I live around criminals in my neighborhood that in my eyes are more dangerous than I ever was, there are murders, thieves, violent gang members, ex gang members, a corrupt police dispatcher, and all manor of dangerous drug users, drug and gun dealers. But I am singled out. I read those myths posted on this page and I can’t agree more. They are myths. My goal is to show that sex offenders can and do change for the good. Maybe not all, but I would say most. I have lost my right to vote. So now I have taxation without representation. I have lost my right to own and have a firearm. so now I have also lost right to defend myself against anyone that feels the need to harm me and or my family. I didn’t rape anyone, I didn’t hurt anyone to the degree that it was life changing for them. I wasn’t then, nor am I now a predator. simply put, had a problem. Made a very terrible decision. I even paid for continued psychological treatment after my court appointed and ordered treatment out of my own pocket. I continue to be a good citizen. I am considered a good neighbor. I have had my boundaries returned to me. But I can never escape the heavy burden of being on the S.O.R. I hope that one day folks will see the truth and not give in to the myths. Thank you for your desire to help those that truly deserve a second chance. I am doing all I can to prove that I for one, am worthy.

    1. AvatarJessica L Allison

      I am sorry you have to live in a society that’s in a large way fearful. I have both for and against feelings when it comes to sex offenders and registries and punishment. I am a victim of sex crime my step dad molested me for 7 years of my life as well as my sister just not as long. Was convicted in 2002 in Oklahoma and was out in 4 1/2 years and was listed as a low risk offender. He moved to Texas panhandlers with his family and was arrested 2 1/2 years later with charges for 4 more victims. And was convicted with 30 years on each charge running concurrent. He is the prime example of a predator. He was good at what he did he put him self in the community was involved in as much as he could went to church every service volunteer, fire fighter, little league assistant coach. He got away with it got caught got out did it again. Point is he had no remorse whatsoever for what he did to any of us and should be punished to the full extent of the law. And he is he won’t get out because he’s dying of aids which he contracted while in prison in Oklahoma. Now on the other side of it my fiancee is now in prison and has a 6 year max 3 years minimum sentence to serve for a stupid mistake because of age what he did was consenting between two people one was just 1 year under law restrictions she never said it wasn’t consenting between them but the state says because of her age it’s not consenting which is just stupid. So he was arrested and took a plea because it was the best choice especially in Texas and a sex crime. He took responsibility not for what they say he did but because he made a stupid choice and will now have to live with for the rest of his life. He will face the risk of being assaulted in prison everyday because he has already done segregation in county and that itself is punishment and he says he will take whatever just to not go seg again and plus you lose privileges that way he says. It’s also considered a 3g crime so no good time counts for him which is unfair. He is not a violent person no criminal history has no relationship issues comes from a good home and has a large support group through this. But as long as he doesn’t get any set offs at the parole hearing he will be home in 2018 if not 2021 at the latest. He will never have a normal life again free of the worries that comes with being a registered sex offender. And unless in the situation most won’t understand what I mean by the thoughts that go through your head with worst possible scenarios. No school Christmas programs no parks no church no Halloween either (law restrictions there too) no kids parties if others in the area find out our children will face the harshness of it. There needs to be something done about the way everything sex crimes is handled. I believe registries are good yes but to an extent. Registration shouldn’t be public unless offender is at risk or a truly violent sex offender but then at the same time if there are people like that then why are they out. Why do we have actual non violent offenders serving and being treated on the same level as a violent offender. On the gun thing we won’t even be able to have one in the home when he gets home so protecting my family from someone who intends harm isn’t an option I’ll have to learn knife throwing I guess because Amarillo is to big and pd response time is slow. His right to vote will be taken away and yet we have people voting that’s not even here legally. As you said u just want to live your life with your loved ones. That is how most want to be once home. Just left alone with out public fears. 3g shouldn’t be attached to every sex crime now, registration should be private except when necessary, and each case should be looked at as a case by case situation not every sex crime is the same and shouldn’t be treated the same. Reform needs to happen. There are and always will be many different opinions both for and against it all. I just hope one day it affects just the right person so that change will happen.

  4. Avatarbrenda

    My boyfriend was convicted of viewing child pornography. He never downloaded or saved images. He was convicted because he viewed them, even though he was deleting. The hard drive was used. He had no other evidence. I’ve known him for 40 years. He was set up by his ex wife. Do you know anyone that can help him have a new trial, or appeal this? Hrs tried in his own. No avail. Hrs the first person to ever be convicted of viewing when it wasn’t a real law. Hrs put low risk, and he’s been out for nearly three years. Just need to know where he can get some legal ( cheap) help. Thank you

  5. AvatarRC

    I am on the SOR, I committed my crime by beliving a young woman back in 2006 when she gave me a fake I.D. showing she was 18 yrs of age. What I dont understand is this, yes we had consensual agreements nothing was ever forced. Yet due to the fact I found out her real age thanks to myspace at the time it made her mad and she told her father about us, who in turn made the report. Now heres what i dont get, how is it OK for her to have a fake ID and lie about her age and nothing happens to her, yet in court the prosecutor tells the courts “we got the bad guy.”
    Not only has this affected me but also my two children of whom i almost lost rights to but the other family members who.endured watching me come.to visitation with black eyes and swollen lips from fighting to.protect myself in prison.
    How is it if a person kills another person, they dont have to do half the things i must and im made to.follow the same rules as the people who prey on wemon and children? It took me 2 yrs to be able to look myself in the mirror because of the way i felt, how was i suppose to know this young lady was only 16 when her ID says diffrent.
    Please lets find a way to end the madness and letting these type ladys get away with so much.
    Its not only to find a place to live its even.harder to find work now days cause when you tell most people your a RSO they automatically thing the worst. Im considered low risk, yet what are the ones who kill other people rated, or better yet the ones out there selling drugs to our children, what are they rated?

    1. Avatardon johnson

      I had same situation I was 17 she lied and I got to register for life I didn’t force any body I meet parents everything thy lied about her age everything is on record I didn’t please out so I have to register for life

  6. AvatarPatricia Richards

    I have a question can a low risk sex offender be an owner/coach of a little league football team?

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