A growing group of sex offenders in Texas vanish by listing bogus addresses or not bothering to register with police as required by law, reports the Houston Chronicle. Police admit they spend too little time looking for them. Lawmakers created sex-offender registries so people could determine how close potential predators live to their neighborhoods, playgrounds or schools. The registries are not foolproof safety nets.
The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News checked tthe whereabouts of more than 800 sex offenders discharged from prison during the 18 months ending in December 2006. Each had been rejected for early release and served their entire sentence. Of those, 19 percent failed to register as sex offenders or their addresses in the registry were incomplete, “unknown,” “absconded,” “out of state” or “homeless.” “You’re going to send the citizens into a panic” when they learn police lack the manpower to keep track of sex offenders who frequently change addresses, said Houston police Sgt. Glenn Shepherd. More than 46,000 adults in Texas are registered as sex offenders for crimes ranging from indecent exposure to aggravated sexual assault of a child. Increasingly, sex offenders deemed too dangerous or reviled for early parole release are returning home unsupervised because they complete their sentences. Their numbers have nearly doubled in Houston in recent years. They are less scrutinized than those on probation.