Survey shows limited use of sex offender registry

July 9, 2013

Texas has the second largest sex offender registry in the country, but relatively few people are accessing it or using it to develop protective actions against future sex crimes, a study by the Crime Victims' Institute at Sam Houston State University found.

Texas began its sex offender registry in 1991 to inform citizens about sex offenders living and working in communities throughout the state and to encourage the public to adopt against . The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains the registry and as of October 2012 there were more than 72,600 active offenders listed. The registry, which can be searched by name, address, zip code, county or institute of higher education, is located at

In "Familiarity with and Uses of Sex Offender Registries," a report on a research study that utilized an of 652 individuals from a Texas university found that while 74 percent of participants were familiar with the state's sex offender registry, only 43 percent have ever accessed the service. The main reasons for using the registry were curiosity, followed by concern for their safety or the safety of children.

Of those who had used the registry, only 17 percent took any protective measures, such as regularly locking doors, advising others about a registered sex offender living in the neighborhood, or not walking alone in the neighborhood. Protective measures for children, including not allowing children to stay home alone or go outside unsupervised, were relatively uncommon, but may be reflective of the age and familial status of those surveyed.

Crime were more likely to use and take protective measures, but it was the victims of identity theft that were the most active users, with sexual assault victims using it least, the study found.

"This study revealed two areas in which findings were contrary to the hypothesized results: minimal effect on registry use when sex crimes occurred in neighborhood and sex offenders lived in neighborhood, and sexual assault victims accessed the registry less than victims of other crimes," the study found.

There was little or no difference in the reported use of the registry if participants knew of living in their neighborhood or if a sex crime occurred while they were living there, although participants were more likely to use the registry when they knew someone in the neighborhood had been arrested on a sex offense. Most respondents learned about the sex offender registry through word of mouth, internet searches or television reports.

As a result of these findings, the Crime Victims' Institute recommended that strategies be developed to increase awareness about the sex offender registry and what residents can do to protect themselves if a sex offender is living in their neighborhood. The full report can be found at

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5 / 5 (1) Jul 10, 2013
"...relatively few people are accessing it or using it to develop protective actions against future sex crimes...." Could that be because it is useless for this purpose?

"There was little or no difference in the reported use of the registry...." There is little or no difference in the risk for sexual assault associated with the registry. 95%, higher with children, of sex crimes are committed by those not on a registry.

"...Crime Victims' Institute recommended that strategies be developed to increase awareness about the sex offender registry...." I recommend that the public registry with its huge price tag be totally revamped and resources directed to education and prevention and programs that will have an effect in lowering the rate of sexual assault.
5 / 5 (2) Jul 10, 2013
When are they going to do more to track and register drunk drivers? My family and I were nearly killed by one who who had three priors. I can protect my family from the stranger down the road and wierd unlce Ben, but not the drunk or the drug dealer or the burglar. THOSE are the people I'd like to see on a registry. And, I am all for a gun registry. The sex offender registry is irrelevant since I don't let my kids hang out with strangers.
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 14, 2013
Problem with the sex registry registry is that sex crimes are so broadly defined to be useless. A 18yr old having sex with his 15 year old girlfriend, will be reported. A 50 year old creep who visited a prostitute will be reported, etc.... while these are crimes, they don't affect the safety of the immediate community. What I want to know about is the pedophiles, rapists, and the dangerous sexual offenders.
I also mostly agree with Taxpayer, I want to know who is a drunk driver, drug dealer, burglar, and other criminals. These people have a higher chance of affecting my personal safety than someone who committed a minor sexual offense one time.

I do disagree with Taxpayer for gun registry, if anything there should be homes that are declared gun free zones so that criminals know which homes are the safest. In a declared gun free home zone, if the homeowner is found to have a gun on the premises, they would be charged with a felony of endangering the criminal public.

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