Sex Offender Law - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/19/08-Lufkin

Sex Offender Law

by Tashun Chism

The Texas State Sex Offender Registry currently has 275 people under the age of 18. But if federal officials have their way, juveniles as young as 14 would all be required to register as sex offenders.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection Child and Safety Act requires all convicted juveniles to be included on a national sex offender registry website. Juveniles could be registered as sex offenders for up to 25 years.

State Representitive Jim McReynolds said, "The question is do we treat a 14 year old sex offender the same as we would treat a 40 year sex predator?"

McReynolds says no. He's one of many who believes that's a harsh price for the average juvenile to pay.

Mark Gorman, Chief of Juvenile Services for Angelina County, said "A lot of juveniles commit sexual offenses based on curiousity, impulsiveness, opportunities and those types of things. And from what I do understand and based on what I've studied, adults usually do commit these offenses based on deviant thought and deviant acts."

Currently, sex offender registration in Texas is not automatically required for juveniles. That gives state judges the power to decide their fates.

"If the judge doesn't want to scar or wark the child kid for life. From what i see and hear from this law, then they basically will be forced to do that by the law," said Gorman.

Judges can see that the child may be low risk at re-offending. And hence not demand that the child be placed in the Texas Registry. Do we take that flexibility away from our judges?" asked McReynolds.

The state of Texas has until July 2009 to comply with the new law.

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