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Sex offender ordinances draw criticism

If there is a so-called "pedophile-free zone" in an area, is that legal? As someone who may be on a sex offender list, you know there are always some restrictions you'll need to face. Should you be painted with the same brush as others who are violent or dangerous offenders? No, and that is a problem if you are.

Several cities in Texas are facing challenges over their bans on sex offenders, because they aren't all the same. With state sex offender registry programs, it's possible to see who has offended and be up to date on the people in your neighborhood. Of course, people should be wary, because not all sex offenders have done anything violent or even harassing to other people.

For instance, the sex offender definition is so broad that someone caught exposing himself in public just twice can be placed on the registry, even if it was for something as innocent as urinating behind a tree or in a secluded area. There are around 85,000 people on the list in Texas alone, and the fact is that not all of those people are a threat to children or anyone else.

Others might land on the list for not realizing a sex partner was underage, and still others could be put on the list for exposing themselves when children are, even accidentally, present. The label "sex offender" is loaded, but these cities are treating all offenders as a danger to others.

Unfortunately, city ordinances restricting offenders when few, if any, live in the area, can promote fear and hysteria; one report issued by the Iowa Department of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning even found that crimes against children increased when these restrictions were in place.

Source: Dallas Observer, "Small Texas Cities Face Challenge Over Restrictions on Sex Offenders," Christian McPhate, Feb. 15, 2016

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