County Wants New Ordinance For Sex Offenders - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/21/06-Upshur County

County Wants New Ordinance For Sex Offenders

An East Texas County is looking at a new way to keep tabs on registered sex offenders.   Right now, Upshur County has 106 sex offenders with a population of 35-thousand people.   By comparison, Smith County has 257 registered offenders, but has more than 4 times the population.   Statistics that has a county investigator proposing a new ordinance to keep offenders away from children.

Investigator Roxanne Warren says she gets two to three sexual assault cases a week--a problem she says needs to be addressed, especially with sex offenders who are not on probation or parole. "If they're just on registration and they're not on supervision, they can live, they can work, and they can pretty much go anywhere they want, even places where there are children," she says.

That's because all they have to do legally is register with the state once a year.  Warren says, "that's really not enough because other than that annual visit to law enforcement to say 'Hey, here I am, this is where I live and I'm still here' really there's no one there that they're accountable to."

So, Warren is now asking the city of Gilmer for a new law that would keep those unsupervised offenders 1000 feet away any events where children might be. "If an offender is released from supervision we can't keep him from being across the street from a playground, we can't keep him from being at Yamboree patrolling if you will for victims," she says.

But with the ordinance, they can. "This is something that we can do as a community and as law enforcement to protect the children."

The Gilmer City Council still has to approve the ordinance, which they are in support of, but..."there is a question of just how far it can go, how restrictive it can be, we're just going to have to wait," says City Manager Jeff Ellington.

Wait because a decision on city ordinances like this one are being taken up by the Attorney General.

If you would like to see a list of registered sex offenders in your area, just click on the "Know More On 7" icon to the left and you'll find a link there called "Sex Offender Database."

Tracy Watler/Reporting:

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