Saturday, December 27, 2008

TX Sex Offender Group Find Ally at Capitol

Texas Politics : Sex offender group find ally at capitol .

Texas Voices, an organization fighting for fair sex offender law reform, has found an ally of sorts at the Texas capitol: a Dallas lawmaker who wants to relax the state's tough sex offender registration laws.

"Some offenses don't rise to the level" of needing registration, Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, said recently.

He's filed a bill,, that would give certain first-time sex offenders the ability to petition the courts to shorter their registration periods, or to have their registration completely waived . The vast majority of sex offenders in Texas must register on the state's Department of Public Safety website for life.

The bill is being hailed by Mary Sue Molnar, the mother of a convicted sex offender who is one of Texas Voices key organizers. "I have to tip my hat to him," Molnar said of Alonzo. "It's a very good start."
Molnar and her group have spent months meeting with lawmakers in an effort to find someone willing to carry a bill that would roll back some of the state's toughest sex offender laws.

The group never met with Alonzo. Alonzo said he filed his bill at the request of a Dallas judge who was fed up with low-risk offenders brought in on technical violations tying up the court's docket.

Texas Voices was founded earlier this year by several registered sex offenders and their family members who were incensed by the state's lifetime registration laws. The group now has hundreds of members, and tailors its message at those who committed non-violent offenses when they were in their late teens or early 20s with compliant victims a few years younger than themselves. The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News ran a recent article about the group's efforts.