Both state and local laws in Texas prohibit sexual offenders from living in areas that children frequent. These laws are designed to protect the public--particularly children--from harm that could possibly result if offenders were allowed to live in close proximity.
Under the Texas Child Safety Zone law, sexual offenders in Texas may not reside within a certain distance from areas frequented by children. An offender cannot live or even travel within a certain distance of common gathering places for children. Examples of prohibited areas include schools, day care centers, playgrounds, youth centers, public swimming pools or arcades. The offender's parole board determines the exact distance.
The law does allow modification of the assigned safety zone under certain circumstances. An offender can request a modification if the distance causes undue hardship or is broader than what is required to protect the public.
The child safety laws let local governments in Texas establish additional residency restrictions. Accordingly, in addition to state law, a sexual offender should understand the laws of the area in which he plans to move.
Dickinson City, Texas
As an example of one jurisdiction in Texas, Dickinson City regulations prohibit sexual offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any place children commonly gather. The city measures the distance from the property line of the offender’s residence to the nearest property line of the place where the children gather.
Dickinson City provides three exceptions to this law. A person does not violate the law if he moved into the residence before Dickinson enacted the ordinance and has complied with all state registration laws. Additionally, an offender who committed the offense as a child or who is a minor can live within the prohibited area. The third exception applies when the offender lived in the residence prior to the establishment of the place where children gather.
Universal City, Texas
Universal City prohibits sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a place where children congregate. The law also prohibits landlords from knowingly renting a residence to a sexual offender within 1,000 feet of a place where children gather. Distance is measured from the property line of the residence to the nearest property line of the children’s area.
The city does provide exceptions to the law. A person who lived in the residence before the enactment of the local law may continue to reside in the residence. Additionally, an offender who established the residence prior to the opening of the children’s area or venue can continue to live there. The offender may live within the prohibited area where he committed the crime as a minor, or if he's currently a minor.
Finally, the law provides an exception in the following three situations: if the person’s sexual offense conviction was subsequently reversed, appealed or pardoned; a court has exempted the person from registration as a sex offender; or the person completes his obligation to register as a sex offender.
Based in Atlanta, Renee Kristi has been writing since 2001 and her work now appears on various websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Spelman College and a Juris Doctor from Georgia State University College of Law.