Texas Residents Do Not Use The Sex Offender Registry
A recent study conducted by Sam Houston State University’s Crime Victim’s Institute revealed that a limited number of people access the Texas sex offender registry. The registry which was formed in 1991 is the second largest in the country. The registry is a tool for the community to access information about sex offenders and get resources to help with preventive measures against those individuals that commit sex crimes. The registry is maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
There were 72, 600 active sex offenders on the register in October. Community members can use the registry and search by a variety of terms including: one’s name, address, different zip codes, county and even institutes of higher education.
Over 600 individuals were surveyed in the report “Familiarity with and Uses of Sex Offender Registries,” from a TX university & re ported 7 4 percent of those surveyed were knowledgeable about the sex offender registry in the state. Of those surveyed 43% utilized the registry services. A few reasons why those surveyed used the registry included curiosity and the safety of themselves as well as their children. A total of 652 individuals was surveyed.
Around 17 percent of those that utilized the registry took protective measures with the information they received from the registry. They included: locking doors regularly, informing others of known sex offenders in the area and eliminating walking alone in the neighborhood. Safety measures for children included depending on the age of the child and family make up not allowing children to be unsupervised or left home unattended.
Those that had been victims of crimes were more likely to use the registries and implement safety measures. The study showed that Identity theft victims were some of the most active users according to the report. Those that used the registry the list included those that had been victims of sexual assault crimes.
The report showed no or little difference in reported use of the sex offender registry from participants that knew offenders in their community or if a crime was committed while they lived there. Participants did however utilize the sex offender registry if they heard of an individual in their community being arrested due to a sex crime. Participants would hear about the registry through internet searches, word of mouth and TV reports.
The Crime Victim’s Institute findings have resulted in recommendations to spread the word about the registry through increased awareness and resources for the community to help keep them safe from sex offenders. Those interested in the full report can visit: http://www.crimevictimsinstitute.org/publications/.
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Banned From Facebook
An appeals court decided that sex offenders are not allowed to be banned from Facebook.
A United States appeals court has decided that a law passed in Indiana last year banning registered sex offenders from using social media sites online is not legal.
The ACLU challenged the law a year ago, but it was upheld by a judge in Indiana. The court recognizes that social media is an important part of today’s society, and offenders online have the same needs for social media that other people do.
The ACLU argues that the law was too restrictive, and it prohibited too many activities that are protected by the First Amendment.
The way the law was written, it barred sex offenders from using online social media to look for jobs on social media sites like LinkedIn. They also could not post on news sites. Social media can also be used to follow religious or political figures.
The ACLU feels that existing laws protect children from sex offenders, and this new law was too restrictive without offering more protection.
The Court of Appeals agreed with the ACLU, claiming that banning sex offenders from using social media infringed on their First Amendment right of free speech. The ruling from this higher court overturned the ruling from last year.
Another reason for the decision is that the Court recognizes that the State already has a law stating that adults can not have inappropriate communication with children, and this new law restricted the same thing and more.
In California, a bill that would remove the rights of a sex offender to have online anonymity while using email, instant messaging and social media, among other sites and service online, has been blocked by a federal judge. Judge Thelton Henderson deems Proposition 35 to be an unconstitutional bill.
The State of California has summarized the bill in question as this:
Human trafficking fines and prison sentences would be increased and the convicted human traffickers would be required to participate in the sex offenders registry. The registered sex offenders would be required to reveal all activities and identities pertaining to the Internet. It would cost the state and local governments a few million dollars to address the offenses of human trafficking. However, this cost could potentially be offset with the increase in the fines that are dedicated to the victims of the crime.
This bill was passed by a majority vote of 81% in November. However, it was blocked temporarily by the filing of a lawsuit by the ACLU and a few sex offenders.
Speaking of the bill, the ACLU stated that Proposition 35 adds penalties to the sex offenders and puts upon them new restrictions. The example given to back up this claim was that of older crimes that have nothing to do with children or the Internet. The bill would require these offenders to disclose their screen names and their Internet provider’s information. This bill hampers the offenders freedom of anonymous speech online, which infringes upon their First Amendment right to free speech.
The judge who imposed the blockage of the bill stated that while the government has a legitimate purpose in their fight of human trafficking and online sex offenses, they can not regulate a person’s right to speech in this way.
While offenders search for a clear answer of how they can exercise their right to free speech, this issue is not a cut and dry one as the response varies from state to state. In Indiana, it was decided that a social media site ban for sex offenders was lawful. While a similar case in Nebraska was dismissed.
Google Maps has always been a very useful tool. Users could employ the tool to locate addresses, people and even offices. The tool could also be accessed through mobile phones and it is a huge asset for people while driving as well. Even so, the Google Design team has now managed to tweak the map to provide an even more beneficial tool. It is now linked with state databases that will show the addresses of local sex offenders, perfect for finding sex offenders. Using the tool is simple. You can access the state database of registered sex delinquent and then enter your address in to the state search engine. This will produce a Google Map of your address and the locations of sex offenders within a five mile radius of your home.
For additional information, you can click on the red bubbles on the map. This will provide additional information on the sex offender in the form of an address and photograph. The map is generally very specific but there are drawbacks. For example, not every sex offender is required to register their name and address with the state database. Moreover, even though offenders register with the sex criminal registry, it takes some time for the paperwork to be processed and entered into the system. In a few states, sex criminals have to register for their entire lifetime and this information is readily accessible for users.
Although this is a valuable asset for personal security, almost every database carries strict warnings about the misuse of this information. Using the information to harm or injure the registered offender could result in an arrest for the person.
Whether you have been living in your family home for years or relocating to a new city or even a new neighborhood in your same town, then a sex offenders search can be a prudent first move.
In this day and age sex crimes, not only against minors but adults as well are on the rise. Let’s face it, things are not like they used to be in the sixties and seventies when you could trust most people.
If you are moving to a new location, across town or across the country then you may want to look into more than just property values and the best places to shop near your home. Finding out who your neighbors are could save you and your family a lot of future turmoil.
A sex offenders search can be done as simply as going online to a number of well maintained and informative websites. It can take only a few minutes to save you and your loved ones a lifetime of trouble. One such website is provided and maintained by the U.S Department of Justice, and is named The Dru SJODIN NATIONAL SEX OFFENDER PUBLIC WEBSITE. This website is up to date and allows you to search for offenders nationwide as well as The District of Columbia and other U.S. territories. Family Watchdog is another good website to perform a search for sex offenders in your area. Also check with your local police department for any information on searches related to sex crimes.
Keeping ourselves and our children safe is a daily challenge, one we should never take lightly. Letting your child play in your own backyard might be as dangerous as letting them play in the street if you have a sex offender living in your area. You cannot know who is a sex offender just by looking at them. It is not written across their forehead in red ink. They often look just like anyone else and can be friendly.
You will not know a sex offender just by looking at them, but you can know one when they are listed on the sex offender registry. Sex offenders are required to register so their names can be put on the list. It is often a part of their release from jail. Violating that recommendation is often grounds for the offender to go back to jail. There are a few Websites that are reliable and will give you a location on every offender in your neighborhood. You can do your own offender search. One of those Websites is called familywatchdog.us. To find the offenders in your area, you can search by street, city and state. The U.S. Department of Justice has a Website for the tracking of national sex offenders too. These are databases that you can do an offender search, and it will show you pictures and addresses of those criminals who are registered sex offenders.