Tracking Sex Offenders In East Texas -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

5/4/05-East Texas

Tracking Sex Offenders In East Texas

Watching the news nightly, you would think child abductions are at an all time high. Not true, say the experts. With 24 hour news, the Internet, we're just hearing about it a lot more.

The same is true when you talk about sexual predators. Local officials tell us they believe the number of sex crimes has held steady for decades. What we're seeing, they say, is that victims, children in particular, are more empowered these days to recognize it and do something about it.

This week, we begin a special two-part report that will empower you. We're able to tell you, down to the neighborhood in some cases, how many sex offenders live in your area and what the chances are, you or someone you love will come in contact with them.

We started the process several weeks ago, using the county map we display on your TV screen during severe weather. On that map are 24 East Texas counties. We looked up the ZIP codes for each of those 24 counties. There were about 215 in all.

From there, using a DPS database, we hand counted the number of registered sex offenders in each ZIP code.

"State law specifically sets out when and how they register," says Smith County Sheriff, J.B. Smith. It's not the "end all, be all" list, but Sheriff Smith says, it's a pretty reliable tool. "Any sex offender must register within 7 days of their conviction and/or their probation.," says Sheriff Smith. And they must register again, anytime they change jobs, cars or residences.

By law, the information must then be provided to three outlets: Newspapers, schools and the DPS web site.

In the 24 counties that make up the KLTV 7 viewing area, the following had the highest number of registered sex offenders.

75160, which includes Terrell, has 55.

75644, which includes Gilmer, has 49.

75766, which includes Jacksonville, has 48.

75801, which includes Palestine, has 47.

75702, in Tyler, has 46.

75751, which includes Athens, also has 46.

75961 in Nacogdoches, has 46.

75602, which includes Longview, has 44.

75455, which includes Mt. Pleasant, has 43.

75701 in Tyler rounds out the top ten with 40.

Right behind those on the list, ZIP codes with registered offenders numbering in the 30s, in Sulphur Springs, again in Longview, Kemp, Greenville, Marshall, Quinlan, Center, Kilgore, Mabank and Henderson.

But offender totals don't tell the whole story. When taking in account population, according to the 2000 Census, different ZIP codes emerge as hot spots on our list.

For ZIPs with populations over 500, the list looks like this:

75478, which includes Saltillo in Hopkins County, has only 5 registered sex offenders. But with a population of just 805, that's a sizable percentage. It comes to .62 of 1 percent of that population.

Other Totals: 75560, Douglassville .54%

75566, Marietta .51%

75669, Long Branch .43%

75943, Douglass .41%

Others with percentages almost double the average for our survey were: 75944 in Nacogdoches County

75452 which includes Leonard

75770 which includes Larue, and locations in and near Lone Star in Morris County, Point, Avinger and Malakoff.

But perhaps the most efficient way to look at is by asking this question: "If I fill a gym with people from my ZIP code, how many would I have to gather to get one registered sex offender?"

Here's your answer.

For ZIP codes with populations between 500 and 2,000, these are the most densely populated with registered offenders:

Again, Saltillo's 75478 in Hopkins County tops the list, where statistically, you would need assemble only 161 people to have one registered sex offender in the crowd.

75560, Douglassville, 1 in 185

75566, Marietta, 1 in 196

75669, Long Branch, 1 in 233

75943, Douglass, 1 in 241

For ZIP codes with populations greater than 5,000, look at 75148 in Malakoff. 1 in 292

In ZIP 75708 in Tyler, gather just 342 people and statistics show you'll have 1 sex offender in the crowd.

75143, Kemp, 1 in 342

75763, Frankston, 1 in 350

75705, Tyler, 1 in 351

75160, Terrell, 1 in 359

Other large ZIPS with concentrations far above the average for our survey include:

75692, Waskom

75704, Tyler

Also on the list are locations that include Quinlan, Gilmer, Center, Atlanta, Henderson and Flint.

(Click here for access to a spreadsheet with complete information on most East Texas ZIP codes.)

(Click here for access to the Texas DPS Sex Offender Database.)

Thursday night's topic: Who has to register, how they're monitored and your rights as a neighbor to one of these people.

Joe Terrell, reporting.


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