By Noelle Newton
Sex offenders may soon have to update their status on social networks. A state representative wants all registered sex offenders to post their criminal information on social networking sites.
When Viviana Regalado's four children approached school age, she went to the DPS sex offender registry to see who might be on their way to the bus stop.
"It's very helpful. We can't keep 100 percent, but it is a tool that we can use," Regalado said.
She found two registered sex offenders in her neighborhood.
"I know where we don't go trick-or-treating, things like that," Regalado said.
State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio wants the information on the DPS registry to also appear on each sex offender's social networking profile.
- So what about the names, photos, criminal history, address and other information for other criminals who target adults and children, like identity thieves, gang members, etc?
In House Bill 23 (PDF), Martinez Fischer proposes all visitors to the person's site shall be able to view an indication that the person is a sex offender, the type of offense for which the person is subject, their height, weight, eye color and hair color and the address at which the person resides. If the person does not reside at a physical address, they must list a detailed description of the geographical location.
A violation would carry a criminal penalty.
We interviewed Mary Sue Molnar of Texas Voices for Reason and Justice--a help group for sex offenders last month.
"I think the laws have become such a mess," Molnar said.
She calls this a "feel good law." It makes the public feel comfortable Molnar says, but does nothing to enhance our safety.
"Laws that are based upon fear and paranoia rather than rational thinking," she described.
She says the truly dangerous won't report and those intent on trolling the internet are not going to give their real names.
The moms we spoke to disagree.
"I think that's a great idea," said mom Lauren Mouritsen. "As a mother, I'm very protective so keep them safe from people who make bad choices like that."
"At least it's making them work harder to be deceitful," Regalado said.
Louisiana was the first state to pass a sex offender social media law. It went into effect on August first. If a sex offender fails to disclose their criminal status, they face two to 10 years in prison. A second conviction would warrant up to 20 years.