By Glenn Evans
A bill that would deal people convicted of violent sexual crimes against children a lifetime prison sentence is in the Senate after unanimous passage Tuesday in the Texas House.
“This requires a two-strikes-and-you’re-out policy,” said Rep. Travis Clardy, one of four authors of House Bill 1302 (PDF), including Marshall Rep. Chris Paddie.
“If there is a second offense, where they are convicted of sexual violence against a child under 14, that’s it. We’re not going to release those people back into society. They have proven what they are, and we’re not going to have them out on the streets.”
The lifelong prison term, which does not allow the possibility of parole, is half of the bill awaiting assignment to a committee in the Senate.
The measure also bans people from several jobs after one conviction for sexual violence against a child.
Such people would be allowed to drive a bus, taxi or limousine. They would not be allowed to work in any service job that requires them to enter a home, and they could not operate amusement park rides.
“This hopefully limits access to children of those people who have proven themselves to be untrustworthy,” said Clardy, R-Nacogdoches.
The measure is called Justin’s Law in memory of the murdered 12-year-old son of a Cherokee County woman.
Authorities believe the child was murdered by a twice-convicted sex offender who lured him into his leased taxi three years ago in Louisiana.
- Believe or know? Believing something doesn't make it true! So you are making a draconian law based on a belief and not facts! Or are we missing something here?
“The tragic story behind this law shows that we the need the toughest punishments for the most heinous sexual offenders,” Paddie said Wednesday. “Justin’s Law will ensure that these offenders are no longer able to prey on our children and should help put parents’ minds at ease.”
Sexual offense laws already prevent convicted people of living near places frequented by children, such as schools or playgrounds. They largely leave it up to employers, however, to decide whether to ban those applicants and conduct background checks.
Under SB 1302, local law enforcement would provide the list of prohibited jobs to people convicted of violent sexual crimes against children when they join a sexual offender registry. Prison officials also are required to provide the no-job list to parolees.
The bill reached the Senate on Wednesday after passing the House by a 144-0 margin Tuesday. It awaited a committee assignment Wednesday night, but Clardy anticipated the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee a likely placement.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s information officer did not respond to a request Tuesday for information on the bill’s assignment.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee has a similar measure, one that enhances misdemeanor promotion of prostitution to felony level if the person being prostituted is younger than 17.
House Bill 32 (PDF) would raise the maximum prison term on a second conviction for promotion of prostitution — a misdemeanor commonly called pimping — from one year to two years regardless of the age of the person being prostituted.
If that person is younger than 17, the maximum prison stint rises to 10 years, a third-degree felony level.
House Bill 32 also raises the maximum term for aggravated promotion of prostitution, defined as controlling two or more people being prostituted, from 10 years to 20 if any being prostituted are younger than 17.
The measure, which won 147-0 House passage on April 17, has not been scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate committee.