How a Texas legislator’s comments helped fuel harsh sex offender laws

The Austin American-Statesman looks at how a statement by one state legislator nearly 20 years ago helped fuel today’s draconian sex offender laws across the country. 

July 1997: State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, a former schoolteacher and proponent of the state’s strict 1995 Ashley’s Laws for sex offenders, attends a conference in Bellevue, Wash., about sex offender registries. She begins her speech by noting that “putting the modern sex offender into the traditional criminal justice system is usually as successful as keeping a snake in a shoebox.”

Shapiro continues: “Sex offenders are a very unique type of criminal. I like to say they have three very unique characteristics: They are the least likely to be cured; they are the most likely to reoffend; and they prey on the most innocent members of our society.” She cites no evidence.

Subsequent research has shown those statements about high sex offender recidivism rates to be false. The article is part of  an investigation into the Texas sex offender registry.

Read more here and here.

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