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Texas Refuses Nat'l Sex-Offender Registry

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on October 15, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Texas will not join the national sex-offender registry, citing cost concerns and a requirement that Texas change its existing sex-offender laws.

And Texas isn't alone. Four other states -- Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Nebraska -- have also declined to take part in the federal registry, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The national sex-offender registry is part of a federal law called the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, signed by President George W. Bush and named after a Florida boy who was kidnapped and killed in 1981. Walsh's father turned his grief into activism, most notably as the host of TV's "America's Most Wanted."

Those "most wanted" criminals often include sex offenders. And because each state has its own laws about what counts as a sex offense and who has to register as an offender, some criminals have moved to other states in order to avoid stricter laws.

That's why supporters of the Adam Walsh Act pushed for a national database. But some states, including Texas, balked at some of the law's requirements.

For example, the federal law requires all juveniles 14 and older who are convicted of aggravated sexual assaults to register as sex offenders for 25 years.

But Texas' law requires juvenile sex offenders to register for only 10 years, and also gives judges the power to waive or defer registration until after the child completes therapy programs, the Chronicle reports.

If Texas agreed to take part in the national sex-offender registry, judges would no longer have that discretion. Texas would also have to add additional offenses to its required registry, and would also have to stop conducting assessments about a particular offender's risk to the community, according to the Chronicle.

By opting out of the federal registry, Texas will lose about $1.4 million in federal grant money to help local law-enforcement agencies. But the state estimates it will save about $38 million by not having to modify its current sex-offender registry program.

In addition to Texas and the four other states that have rejected the national registry, about three dozen states still don't meet all the conditions of the federal law, the Chronicle reports.

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