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/.