The Department of Public Safety in Texas is in charge of collecting information on sex offenders and keeping it safe in the state sex offender registry. The law enforcement officers from the local arena furnish the registry with relevant information concerning the sex offenders. Texas offender law was enacted in 1991 and requires all sex offenders to register with the local institutions charged with law enforcement. This sex offender law ensures that residents are notified of any sex offender who moves into their neighborhood and protects them from sex crime habits. When this information is collected from the sex offenders, it is stored in the registry’s database and made available to the public. The local law enforcement agencies run the sex offenders registry and form the only credible source of information regarding Texas’s sex offenders. This paper will discuss what happens to convicted sex offenders after they have “paid their debt” to society.
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The Fate of Sex Offenders in Texas
Citizens can access notification policies on the rate of sexual violence in their state. There are 29 sex offenders on the Texas public sex offender website convicted of different sex-related criminal cases (Texas Department of Public Safety, 2020). Some of the crimes committed by the said sex offenders include; sexual assault to minors, child sexual contact, online solicitation of minors, sexual assault in the fourth degree, aggravated sexual assault, burglary habitation intend sexual offense, interstate compact registration, continuous sexual abuse of a child, indecency with a child by exposure, promoting child pornography and burglary habitation intend and other felonies. The victims’ ages also vary from minor to adult depending on the crime committed against them. Some of the minors are aged 4, 9, 10, 13, and 15, while the adults are aged 33, 34, and 62 (Texas Department of Public Safety, 2020). Any offender who breaches the sexual offender registry rules risks facing a felony prosecution.
Offenses related to sexual abuse have created a lot of anxiousness in society. The majority of legislatures in different states have enacted laws and policies that protect the general public from sexual victimization. Sexual offenders who have been convicted and completed their parole successfully have a high recidivism rate (Hoppe, 2016). Therefore, their re-entry into society should be closely monitored because they pose a threat to the public. Different communities have developed a universal view that all sex offenders are similar concerning the potential risk they harbor. When sexual offenders re-enter society after conviction, they instill a lot of fear in the general public. The policies put in place for offenders’ management should include; sex offender registration in the local state sex offender registry, adequate notifications to the general public, civil commitment, and restrictions of sex offenders in their respective residences, proper judgment, and sentencing guidelines, and electronic monitoring of all sex offenders. All these measures would help instill some confidence in the vulnerable groups of minors and women in society.
Lawmakers should not spend long hours of sessions debating about this policy, but instead, they should enact these policies to save the lives of vulnerable members of society. Some states have already hurried and enacted these regulations with some existing buffer-zone laws. According to these buffer-zone laws, some places that are out of bounds to the sex offenders are schools, recreational parks, swimming pools, and public libraries. The general public believes that sex offenders and mainly serial criminals should be living somewhere else even after serving their full sentence and successful completion of parole. However, critics of buffer-zone laws argue that keeping off-limits to these sex offenders does not necessarily deter them from committing this crime (Calkins et al., 2015). They argue that sex offenders who want to commit this crime will always go ahead and do it regardless of the distance and the limitations put in place (Calkins et al., 2015). These buffer-zone laws are not good public policies because they instill a false sense of insecurity in children and vulnerable members of society, thus preventing the law enforcement officers from executing their mandate effectively.
Offenders who have reformed and are trying to live in peace face hard times re-entering society today. It should be noted that offenders have rights, too, and therefore their justice needs should be met by subjecting them to a fair trial in the justice system (Rickard, 2016). Sex offenders should be helped to come to terms with their wrongdoing consequences and take responsibility for those actions. Many sexual offenders have faced victimization and trauma because of their dark deeds, which should not rob them of their full humanity. The criminal justice system in every state should hold these sex offenders to realize their worth, offer a corrective mechanism to their crime, and get an opportunity to re-enter society as law-abiding citizens. Primarily, the justice system should consciously address the offenders’ rights and needs, mainly by subjecting them to a fair trial. However, this is not what practically happens because, to determine the guilt and apportion the sentence, the offender’s full rights and needs are compromised.
Additionally, the close family members, relatives, friends, and workmates of both the sex offender and the victim in question are also affected by this heinous act and therefore deserve appropriate attention. The justice system should devise a way to incorporate every concerned party and particularly the entire community in establishing the root causes of these vices for the good of all individuals. Any form of crime in society results in an adverse effect and ripples its members’ lives in several ways. However, a meaningful justice system requires the victim and the offender to hear each other and internalize each other’s feelings. Victims of sexual abuse would like their abuser to listen to their pain, ask them several questions, and get an assurance of their safety and dignity. On the other hand, offenders would like to disclose what is going through their minds after their crime, offer their apology and remorsefulness, and beg for an opportunity to make things straight again.
Information on sex offenders should be less readily available to help the former offenders re-enter society and amicably join the law-abiding community. The main reason why this information is put in the public domain is to equip the general public with relevant information that will help parents protect their children from sexual predators. It is believed that sex offenders who are subjected to public scrutiny would less likely revert to recidivism. However, the state should limit online notification to high-risk offenders because it has significant adverse effects. Most criminals make plea bargains, and this affects the guilt determination for defendants charged with sex offenses.
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Registered sex offenders face a significant challenge in re-entering society after serving their sentence and parole. The rapidly increasing sex offenses put the reformed sex offenders in an unruly environment because they remain suspicious. Sex offense counseling should be administered to all sex predators to help them avert recidivism and take responsibility for the havoc done. Mental health treatment for sex offenders is essential because it helps build a cohesive society that respects human rights and law rules.
Calkins, C., Colombino, N., Matsuura, T., & Jeglic, E. (2015). Where do sex crimes occur? How an examination of sex offense location can inform policy and prevention. International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, 39(2), 99-112. Web.
Hoppe, T. (2016). Punishing sex: Sex offenders and the missing punitive turn in sexuality studies. Law & Social Inquiry, 41(3), 573-594. Web.
Rickard, D. (2016). Sex offenders, stigma, and social control. Rutgers University Press. Web.
Texas Department of Public Safety. (2020). The Texas public sex offender website. Web.