The Texas sex offender database has been made easier for the public to search for registered sex offenders.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has doubled down on its commitment to protect children from sexual predators by creating a number of ways to search for sex offenders using the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry.
The new format offers options to search: by the registrant’s name; by address, zip code, county, or map; or by institute of higher education.
Sheriff James Campbell from Cherokee County says, “The DPS’s website is an invaluable tool for citizens.” Campbell added that the website is “the first place we go to check someone out, especially when we get calls from the public.”
The sheriff’s statement may be more revealing than he realizes, because often that is exactly what regular people do as well… and that may be why the registry includes so many caveats.
Caveats of the Texas Sex Offender Registry
When someone attempts to search the Texas sex offender database, they are supposed to read and agree to a Caveats statement. Here are a few of the caveats they are made aware of:
DPS cannot guarantee the records obtained through this site relate to the person about whom information is sought. Searches based on names, dates of birth, or other alphanumeric identifiers are not always accurate. The only way to positively link an individual to a specific sex offender record is though fingerprint verification.
This implies that if someone is searching for a particular person, the results might not accurately reflect whether that person is a convicted sex offender.
It is your responsibility to make sure the records you access through this site pertain to the person about whom you are seeking information. Extreme care should be exercised in using any information obtained from this website.
Using the information from the sex offender database without verifying its accuracy can be extremely detrimental and harmful because the information could be wrong.
Anyone who uses any information on this website to injure, harass, or for any other unlawful purpose may be subject to criminal prosecution or civil liability.
The sex offender registry exists solely to inform citizens about whether a sex offender lives in their neighborhood. Individuals are not allowed to use this information unlawfully against the alleged sex offender.
If this database is so important and necessary to protect the public from sex offenders, why then must there be explicit caveats stating that the database is not perfect? Perhaps because in creating it, we’ve failed to protect sex offenders from the public.
Consequences Registered Sex Offenders Face in Their Community
When you register as a sex offender, your name and residence are now available to the general public for its viewing.
Unfortunately, this can bring negative consequences to the sex offenders on the registry.
Because their information is now public, sex offenders and their families face a number of consequences, including:
- Public fear and hostility
- Job loss
- Home eviction
- Loss of personal relationships
- Limited opportunities
- Ostracism and excommunication
- Threats and harassment
- Property damage
- Violence, which for some has led to injuries and even death
Jessie K., a sex offender registrant from California, made this observation some 23 years after a sexual assault conviction: “Sleep is hard to come by. I stay up at night, worried that I can’t find a job, worried that I can’t find an apartment, worried that I am going to be killed like other sex offenders have been killed, worried that they will take away my family, won’t let me see my children and grandchildren anymore.”
Prosecutors and victims’ rights advocates are constantly looking out for the victims, but who is looking out for the sex offender registrants who also have rights? Why do we favor one person’s rights over another person’s rights?
Many sex offenders want to keep their conviction in the past and move on, not bothering anyone, and doing what they are supposed to do in order to maintain a sense of normalcy and live their life.
Recently, a federal judge from Colorado found that the sex offender registry was unconstitutional for three sex offenders. Although that decision is now being appealed, perhaps it demonstrates why society should be considering the negative effect the registry has on its registrants and how it can improve the situation.
If you have been accused of a sex crime and want to avoid registering as a sex offender or you want to know your options if you are required to register as a sex offender, reach out to an experienced Texas sex crimes lawyer to fight for your constitutional rights.