Courts & Crime

Texas' sex offenders registry needs changes, advocates say

Richard Calderon was a 23-year-old student teacher in 1994 when he made "the most regrettable decision in my life."

He became sexually involved with a 14-year-old female student.

He was sentenced to five years' probation for sexual assault of a child. He completed his sentence, went on to earn a master's degree, start a career in computer technology and get married.

Now 39, he believes he has earned the opportunity to put his shameful past behind him for good -- by ending his mandatory lifetime presence on the state's registry for sex offenders.

"I am not a predator," Calderon said. "I am in no way, shape or form a threat to society. I'll never be proud of the person who made that terrible decision, but I am proud of the person I have become."

Calderon is among the people advocating for changes to the state's sex offender registry, including using a more risk-based classification system and allowing offenders who are not deemed public threats the possibility of getting off the list.

The current registry has swelled to 62,000 names and is becoming too bloated to perform its purpose of protecting the public, they say.

In agreement is the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment, which formed a task force in 2008 to study the efficiency of the registry. Council members say the current registry treats too many offenders as equally dangerous and inundates law enforcement agencies tasked with keeping track of them.

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