Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 1206
By: Jackson


All fifty states now require released sex offenders to register with law
enforcement or state agencies in an effort to inform law enforcement
members, victims, school districts, and other citizens of the presence of
sex offenders in their community.  As part of the sex offender registration
process, many states use sex offender screening tools to assign a numeric
risk level that predicts the offender's level of risk to the community.
Texas currently uses a screening tool to assign a released offender a
numeric risk level of one or two.  A ranking system with a range of levels
between one and three would give the state more flexibility in its ability
to describe the risk of released sex offenders, and would better conform to
the ranking systems adopted by many other states.  Senate Bill 1206
modifies provisions regarding the sex offender screening tool in Texas and
the numeric ratings assigned to released sex offenders. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


Senate Bill 1206 requires the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
or the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), rather than the risk assessment review
committee, to determine a sex offender's risk to the community using the
sex offender screening tool.  The bill modifies the numerical ratings used
to assess sex offenders so that a person receives a rating on a level of
one to three that corresponds with the number of points the person scores
on the screening tool.  A level one indicates a person poses a low danger
to the community, a level two indicates a moderate risk, and a level three
indicates that the person poses a serious danger to the community and will
continue to engage in criminal sexual conduct (Arts. 62.03 and 62.035). 

S.B. 1206 provides that the risk assessment review committee (committee)
functions in an oversight capacity, and requires the committee to monitor
the use of the sex offender screening tool in Texas, ensure that staff are
trained on the use of the screening tool, analyze other screening tools as
they become available, and revise or replace the existing screening tool if
warranted.  The bill authorizes TDCJ, TYC, or a court to override a risk
level only if the entity believes that the risk level assessed is not an
accurate prediction and the entity documents the reason for the override in
the offender's case file.  The bill requires records and files regarding
sex offenders, including sealed juvenile justice records, to be released to
the court, TDCJ, or TYC for the purpose of determining the person's risk
level, but specifies that open meetings provisions do not apply to such
records and files (Art. 62.035).  

S.B. 1206 provides that a member of the judiciary or an employee or officer
of TDCJ, TYC, the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, the Department of
Public Safety, a community supervision and corrections department, or a
juvenile probation department is immune from liability for good faith
conduct related to the sex offender registration program (Art. 62.091). 


September 1, 2001.