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How About Having a Rapist--as Your Next Door Neighbor?

Howdy neighbor!   How about making it easier for convicted rapists and killers to move into your neighborhood.

  1200 WOAI news reports that is the goal of some state lawmakers, who say if criminals could fine housing it would make the less likely to commit new crimes.

  But Mark Levin of the conservative-leaning Texas Public Policy Foundation says the numbers back up the claim.

  "Study after study shows that those with stable housing are a lot less likely to re-offend," Levin said.

  Last session lawmakers made it easier for ex cons to get jobs by limiting the liability of employers.  Now, some lawmakers want to go a step further, and limit the liability of landlords to try to make it easer for cons to get homes and apartments.

  But Beth Van Winkle of the Texas Apartment Association, representing 11,000 apartment complexes, isn't fond of the idea.

  "Our first priority has to be protecting the safety of residents and employees," she said.  "We are not experts at diagnosing whether somebody with a criminal history is going to commit another crime."

  Most apartment complexes require criminal background checks before renting to tenants.

  "Parents don't want their children going off to rent an apartment where they might be close to criminals," she said.

  Sarah Paul of the Criminal Justice Coalition is speaking out in support of the proposal.

  "When they are unable to access public of affordable housing, some people are reduced to living back in the crime-ridden neighborhoods that facilitated their original criminal activity," Paul said.

  Levin says making sure that criminals who have paid their debt to society can find a place to live while they attempt to re-integrate into that society is one of the most important points in making sure a person does not commit crimes again.

  "Certainly there are a handful of housing that is available to these individuals," Levin said.  "But the downside of that is the released criminals are all congregated into the same handful of apartments and this is not good either."


 

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