The Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee is urging that the state unbind itself from federal laws that provide for minimum sex offender registration requirements, reports the Austin Chronicle. As a result, the state may devise its own methods of assessing the risks individual offenders pose to the community at large and create a path to allow qualified offenders off the list.
As of Jan. 6, there were 64,565 names on the state's sex offender registry. While initially designed to keep the public – in particular, children – safe from predators, the number of offenses eligible for registration has ballooned since the registries were first created in 1994. Many experts contend that the addition of so many types of crimes has diluted any positive effect the registry might have had on public safety. The registry includes not just serial pedophiles but also so-called Romeo and Juliet casesinvolving youthful romantic affairs in which one party is younger than 17, Texas' age of consent. Martin Ezell and his wife who became involved when he was already 32 and she was just shy of 17. Ezell was prosecuted and given deferred adjudication on the charge of sexual assault of a child. Ezell must register for life, and is unable to find meaningful work.