City Council to Vote on Ordinance Keeping Registered Sex Offenders From Living Together
Shame there's no one at Dallas City Hall till Monday, because this just popped up on the year-ending December 8 council agenda: an ordinance that will "prohibit multiple registered sex offenders from residing in the same dwelling unit, with certain defenses." Says the agenda, the council first discussed this item last week, during a closed-door meeting with the city attorney.
I called Dwaine Caraway, mayor pro tem and head of the Public Safety Committee, to see if he could explain what prompted this change to the Dallas City Code. He said he wasn't sure -- he had other business during the closed-door session last week, he said. Besides, said Caraway, "It's going to be pretty well discussed, because of the broadness of it. It just popped up, and we'll deal with it."
The ordinance follows, but here's the backgrounder provided to council late yesterday:
The proposed ordinance would add Section 31-17.1 to CHAPTER 31, "OFFENSES - MISCELLANEOUS," of the Dallas City Code to regulate the residency of registered sex offenders. Under the proposed ordinance, a registered sex offender would be prohibited from either temporarily or permanently residing in the same dwelling unit with other registered sex offenders, regardless of whether the dwelling unit is located on a single-family, duplex, townhome, or multi-family property. A registered sex offender would include any person required to register as a sex offender under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. A citation for a violation could be issued to either the sex offender or the owner, operator, or person in control of the dwelling unit that allowed multiple registered sex offenders to reside in the dwelling unit. An offense would be punishable by a fine of up to $500.
It would be a defense to prosecution if: (1) the multiple sex offenders were related by blood, marriage, adoption, or foster care; (2) the victim was below the age of 17, was a willing participant in the sexual activity, and was not more than four years younger than the registered sex offender (a/k/a "Romeo & Juliet" defense); or (3) the dwelling unit was a lawfully operating halfway house, overnight general purpose shelter, homeless assistance center, or institute for special education operating a state approved program for criminal offenders. Multiple registered sex offenders residing in the same dwelling unit on the passage date of the proposed ordinance would have one year to comply with the ordinance.
The ordinance, as drafted by City Attorney Tom Perkins, follows.