More Than 20 Texas Town Repeal Sex Offender Residency Law

February 8, 2016

A broad legal challenge has led more than 20 towns in Texas to ease restrictions over the last few months on where sex offenders can live instead of fight a costly battle in court.

While other states, including neighboring Oklahoma, continue to push offenders away from some neighborhoods, about 45 Texas towns received letters in November from the group Texas Voices for Reason and Justice demanding they repeal residency restrictions. The nonprofit, which is critical of sex offender laws it considers ineffective, also has sued 14 towns and has a powerful ally — the state attorney general’s office.

“We advocate an individual assessment on a case-by-case basis to determine if someone is a threat to the community,” said Richard Gladden, an attorney for the group. “The myth that people who commit sex offenses just generally are unable to control their sexual conduct is just that, a myth.”

At issue is how Texas’ small towns are differentiated from larger ones. Communities with fewer than 5,000 people are “general law” towns, which can’t adopt an ordinance that the Legislature hasn’t permitted. Dozens of these smaller communities have restricted where sex offenders can live — usually with the purpose of keeping them away from schools and other places children gather — but only later learned they’ve run afoul of state rules.

“Unless the Legislature expressly authorizes it, a general-law municipality may not adopt an ordinance restricting where a registered sex offender may live,” according to a 2007 opinion signed by then-AG Greg Abbott, who’s now Texas governor. Larger cities fall under “home rule,” which means they have “a constitutional right of self-government,” Abbott wrote.

  • Pam

    “The myth that people who commit sex offenses just generally are unable to control their sexual conduct is just that, a myth.”
    If the above is true, why then, did I see a documentary OVER 20 YEARS AGO, in which every child molester and serial rapist they interviewed in prison said (paraphrased), if and when I get out, I WILL re-offend, and if you castrate me, I will just find another “tool”?
    There does need to be changes made to how the laws are worded, because as it now stands (in most places) a 17 year old who pisses off his 16 year old girlfriend so much that she has mommy and daddy cry rape, is dumped into the same category as the guy who breaks into 10 women’s homes and brutally rapes them.

  • rwendling70

    Why is it that “lawyers” line up to sue cities trying to protect their citizens from recidivist sexual predators? Where even is the logic in suing cities beyond just another money-grubbing way to make (not earn) money? If one is an Atheist, one has no moral scruples. So much for ABA scruples, too.

    • satelliter

      “If one is an Atheist, one has no moral scruples”…and exactly how did you arrive at that stupid conclusion? So by your thinking, anyone who goes to church is a perfect, darling angel who would never do or say anything wrong? Here is a real life lesson for you…I grew up in a small town and knew practically everyone there, including all the kids I went to school with and all their parents. I started going to church at the urging of some friends who claimed to be Christians. Seeing many people there I knew who were liars and crooks, including my own Sunday school teacher, who I knew had burned another farmer’s barn to the ground because he didn’t like him, I felt like I needed to surround myself with a better class of people, and did not like being preached to by someone far below my standard of character. My parents didn’t go to church, but they gave me a strong standard of right and wrong. All my life I have lived a clean life regarding right and wrong and kindness and compassion for others. I’m now 75 yrs. old and all those years taught me there are good people who are Christians and bad people who claim to be Christians. Likewise, there are good people and bad people who claim to be Atheists. I tend to feel my moral scruples are just a bit above your own, by the simple fact that I do not judge other people as you do. If you are a Christian you know what the Bible says about passing judgement on others. Open your mind and relate to people without sticking a label on them, you will be a better person for it.

      • rwendling70

        Nice letter, Satelliter. Your apparent good morality came from your parents, who knew right from wrong. But, where did they learn that? My point was and is, the American social contract has its basis in Judeo-Christian teachings. The only atheist codes I know of are those of the Demorat Party and the Communist Party.
        However, your lengthy letter was all about judging me. In future correspondence, let’s discuss issues such as Lawyers lining up to sue cities trying to protect their citizens from recidivist sexual predators. Best regards

        • RadioFreeKansas

          I resent your implication that anyone who has ever voted for a Democrat in their lives is a God-less heathen. I’ve met far more “christian” republican hypocrites in my 62 years of living than Democrats!

          • rwendling70

            Resent all you wish. RFK, it is you inferring what I say. I’m pretty clear In my implications. Until your hero, (I’m guessing.) Barry Soetoro gets his way, the interweb is still pretty free, except for Google.
            Say, you and Satelliter know a bunch of hypocrites. Are you still hanging with them? Hanging with him?
            Demorats weren’t always the Socialists they are today. Republicans weren’t always the Demorats they are today. I, myself, in my youth was frightened by LBJ’s ad against Barry Goldwasser and voted Demorat…..once. It’s been a slow process of wising up. Speaking of that, what are your thoughts on HiLIARy?

          • RadioFreeKansas

            She’s scary alright, but not as scary as that that shoot-from-the-lip, former half-term Alaskan governor Palin! BTW, I won’t be voting for Hillery..but DAMN SURE not for Trump!!

  • 7818TD

    The question is simple “Do you want them in your Neighborhood, around your Schools and Playgounds”??????

    • Pam

      The answer is simple, the State of Texas needs to adopt this law. Heck, even ILL-inois has a law against registered sex offenders living near schools and parks.


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