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TX: Commissioners call on state to strengthen sex offender laws

[cleburnetimesreview.com – 6/15/18]\

The problem warrants concern, and is growing, Johnson County Sheriff Adam King said.

“We’re averaging two to four new sex offenders per week moving into the county as the cities continue to squeeze them out,” King said.

And it’s not just the cities within Johnson County.

“As a suburban county next door to a large urbanized county we’re getting a lot of sex offenders moving into the unincorporated portions of Johnson County,” Johnson County Commissioner Larry Woolley said.

The problem, King and Woolley said, is the authority cities have to pass ordinances governing sex offenders that Texas counties lack.

“Cities can institute 2,000 foot child safety zones around schools, churches, swimming pools, arcades and other areas where children tend to be, where sex offenders can’t live or work in those areas,” Woolley said. “We don’t have that authority in the county.”

That Tarrant and Dallas counties are mainly city filled with little unincorporated county area has compounded the problem, both said, prompting numerous sex offenders from those counties to relocate to Johnson and other area smaller population counties.

The problem, county officials and residents say, is that schools, churches and other such areas where children tend to congregate exist in unincorporated areas.

To that end, commissioners, during their Monday meeting, approved a resolution calling upon the state Legislature to address the issue during their next session in January.

“It’s only fair that counties have the same rights as cities in this issue,” Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon said. “The Legislature gives us little authority to regulate. We can regulate sexually oriented businesses, but not this.”

Woolley concurred.

“This resolution is just asking the Legislature to give us the same authority cities have,” Woolley said. “I can’t imagine anybody thinking that isn’t right.”

King confirmed the numbers are growing.

“In January 2017 the sheriff’s office was dealing with 386 sex offenders,” King said. “The most recent count is 518 and those are just the ones we deal with at the sheriff’s office who are living in unincorporated county areas. That’s not counting the ones the Cleburne, Burleson and other city police departments are dealing with.

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  1. Ruben Herrera

    Is crazy how states want to enforce or create new laws that crate very little hope of living in the so called “the free world”, or live the “American Dream” for former registrants. I’m a former registrant, I just completed three months since being out, I am on probation(formal) and I wonder if LA county is going to do the same or sit back and really think for once and not jump to conclusions without knowing facts (society). I’m a father of two(boy and girl) and a husband. I think about them everyday and not knowing how to navigate around this but just face it forward and take it one day at a time is all I have, as well as my wife, because our children do not know, they are yet very small. Every day I wake up wondering when is React, LAPD or Probation, going to come to my house guns blazing, have my family woken up at 5 or 6 in the morning and them seeing me being handcuffed while they do their compliance check. I don’t want my family to see me in handcuffs anymore. I hate that I’m putting my family through this, and I wonder what law makers in our state are going to do. I pray, and I have faith no matter what. I made a mistake and a mistake that I or any registrant doesn’t matter the case, shouldn’t have to be punished for the rest of their lives. Please comment…..

    • AnonMom

      @Ruben, my husband is 6 months into probation, and it is still hard. We too have a very young child, and I live everyday afraid that the cops are going to break my door down for SAFE Check. My husband did ask his PO what to expect and she said they typically do not break the door down unless they know you are there and you are refusing to let them in. She also said if it is me here then I am to let them in and they will check the house and that should be the extent of it. Obviously she can’t guarantee this is how it will be, but it did help to have an idea. She knows me and my daughter live in the same house, and I imagine that they wrote into reports before these raids if there are children or not, so as to be somewhat mindful of that. Not many can say this, but I feel my husband got a rational PO. My husband has never been in trouble before, I mean no criminal history whatsoever, so this is new to us, as it was to many people here. Hang in there, love on your babies and your wife, and remember that probation is temporary. I dread the day I have to explain any of this to my child and I pray all the time that registry is abolished in the next few years (wishful thinking I know!). Stick around here a lot of the people that post here have a lot of advice and information, and it also helps with the loneliness and isolation feelings. For reference, I am in the inland empire, and I imagine LA has even less resources for these checks.

      • R M

        @AnonMom, Your husbands PO said “… if it is me here then I am to let them in and they will check the house and that should be the extent of it”. YOU are under no obligation to let any law enforcement into your home regardless of what the PO said unless they have a search warrant.

  2. J

    Are sex offenders the only ones moving in??

  3. CR

    “This resolution is just asking the Legislature to give us the same authority cities have,” Woolley said. “I can’t imagine anybody thinking that isn’t right.”

    Anyone who understands the concept of civil rights must think that it isn’t right.

    If cities and counties in Texas can establish residency restrictions on sex offenders, we’ll all be living under bridges.

  4. Paul

    Here’s a thought: instead of giving counties the same authority to pass residency restrictions, how about the state remove the authority entirely and simply disallow it!

    Mind. Blown.

    • Ali

      That would be a huge win if state removes authority. I wonder if any attorneys are fighting it.

  5. Agamemnon

    Why doesn’t anyone even attempt to dispute the assumptive nature of this article and all featured that the registrants forced out of their native counties are a threat at all?

    Again, while they oppress those who have already served their time, they don’t realize the people entrusted in their own lives are the ones most likely to commit a crime.

  6. Chris F

    Texas is quickly going downhill.

    We lost the fight against the City of Lewisville over residency restrictions, mostly due to lack of challenging Substantive Due Process and banishment.

    Then, last year minor cities were granted the ability by legislature to set residency restrictions that previously only large cities could do.

    Now, it’s going to be a war of who can set the highest restrictions to force sex offenders out and then just keep raising them.

    • Timmmy

      Was this brought up in court?

      THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION

      Sec. 16. BILLS OF ATTAINDER; EX POST FACTO OR RETROACTIVE LAWS; IMPAIRING OBLIGATION OF CONTRACTS. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, >>> retroactive law <<< , or any law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be made

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