The Texas registry began 20 years ago, and according to the Texas Dept. of Public Safety, 90% or more of those on the registry are at low risk of reoffending. However, once on the registry, the chance of ever being removed from it appears slim. Meanwhile, the registry continues to balloon in size with a dozen or more new registrants added daily.
It is a little known fact for those on the registry that Texas actually has a “deregistration program”, an actual process for getting off the registry if one meets certain narrow criteria. The conditions in part are A) having been convicted of only one offence and B) having a registration requirement that is greater in Texas than if it had been a federal conviction.
Why don’t more registrants know about the Texas “deregistration process”? First, it requires in depth research best done on a computer, but which alot of registrants are not allowed use of. Secondly, opponents of the process feel that notifying registrants that there is a way off the registry, “is not in the spirit for which the registry was initially devised.”
Texas has 87,686 registrants. As of 2015 only 335 offenders had applied for deregistration, and of those, only 110 had met the narrow legal criteria required to move on in the assessment process which includes batteries of tests to measure risk. Cost of testing, $2,900, paid by the registrant.
The next part of the process is petitioning the court where I imagine it would be advantageous for the registrant to have a qualified attorney, cost again, to be paid by the registrant.
Many courts, never having dealt with the obscure “deregistration process” deny even the most qualified applicant. Judges can disagree with the risk assessment or blatantly decide that the registry is “part of the initial sentencing punishment” and should remain enforced. Petition denied.
As of 2016, only 58 registrants, less than 1/10th of 1% have been removed from the Texas registry.
Republican state representative of N. Texas (1992-2006) Ray Allen, who sponsored a bill in 2005 to reduce the number of low-level offenders on the registry admits that “we cast the net too wide in devising the sex offender notification bills of 1995 and 1997.” “Out of the 85,000 people on the registry, approximately four or five thousand of them are actually dangerous sex offenders, the rest were just drunk, stupid or misguided, and unlikely to commit any future sex crimes. ”
I find it incredulous that Texas registrants are never informed of the “deregistration process”. I’m sure the state spent taxpayer money devising the bill that allowed for the process. Why go to all that trouble if the state had little intention of ever allowing registrants to make use of it.? Why the deceit in not notifying registrants that there is a slim chance they could be taken off the registry? And why, if there is a lawful process in place, should it cost the registrant anything to take advantage of that lawful process?
Haven’t they paid enough?