Friday, December 6, 2013

Registered Sex Offenders and Parks--Can They Ever Co-exist?

I have just watched the San Antonio City Council vote unanimously to further restrict where San Antonio citizens who are listed on the sex offender registry may live and go in regard to city parks.

Watching this, it was clear it was a done deal. While advocates for fact-based laws spoke, begging the council to think this through more thoroughly and to be sure they had read the research, only one, a law enforcement officer, spoke for it, citing the need to have this as a tool in protecting children.

Recent incidents in public parks have been committed by those not on the registry. This ordinance would have offered no protection against them.

If the ordinance were more narrowly tailored to target registrants whose offenses were against children or, even more appropriately, registrants who have a history of luring children from public places, it would not be so offensive.

This is not the case. It will affect the grandfather who had an adult victim 25 years ago, totally paid his legal obligation, has never re-offended, and takes his grandchildren to the park on a regular basis. It will affect the father who is on the registry for an illegal but otherwise consensual sexual relationship with his high school sweetheart who has been for years his wife and mother of the children that he may no longer take to the park. It will affect the young man who was innocent of the accusations against him but was nonetheless convicted and required to register for life.

The only redeeming aspect of this ordinance is that it will not affect registrants who are already living in what will become restricted areas. But when they move, it will affect them. Due to the broad and ever growing range of what are considered sexual offenses, Texas adds an alarming number of individuals yearly to the registry. For those who live in or move to San Antonio, their already limited access to housing will be even more limited and difficult to obtain, a factor that research studies show works against rather than for public safety.

Theoretically, a registrant can apply for an exemption from the policy. When a council member pressed for assurance that this was a fact in reality, no one there could clearly articulate an answer. Finally someone managed to say that yes, if a registrant applied for an exemption before March 1st and it was granted, then if he were arrested/cited for being in a park, his exemption would serve as an affirmative defense.

That is not the same thing as being exempt from the ordinance.

San Antonio has enacted this day an ordinance that is contradicted by everything empirical data says about residence and presence restrictions against registered citizens. Other cities, having enacted them several years ago, have reversed them when lawsuits, wasted tax revenue, and other negative consequences made it clear they had made the wrong choice.

I await the day when the San Antonio city council reaches the same conclusion.


  1. Any place where children congregate is like candy to a pedophile. Sex offenders have demonstrated they are not to be trusted . Keep them out of Parks keep them out of Society!

  2. Registered citizens that have gone through probation, therapy and time served should be able to go to any public place that is allowed to all others. To not allow such is NOT freedom but tyranny. Where are we in pre-1945 Germany? What about the safety of the registrant's child? It is a fundamental right of all parents to be with their children in public places. Children jump around in parks while playing they often get hurt. Do you really think it wise to disallow any parent from the choice of being with their child as the child's first line of protection and safety in city parks? Their child is more likely to get hurt than some other child being harmed by a registrant that has been through the grinder of probation or parole. About the police giving out waivers...why would a law enforcement agency give out waivers for people to break the law? Really? That would be in direct violation of their position as law enforcement officers! TRUTH

  3. We think keeping registered sex offenders out of parks will keep our children safe, but what about the those that use drugs, sell drugs, drink, committed murder, arson, robbery, etc. Also, those sex offenders that have not been caught and are not on the registry. If they can use the parks, then our children are no safer. When we start to discriminate who can use public facilities, then they are no longer public and that is wrong! Whether we we pick on people because of race, religion, or any other reason it is wrong.


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Thank you.