DALLAS (WFAA) — A registered sex offender who served his prison sentence and is no longer on probation or parole said he worries that the Dallas City Council might soon limit the number of places where he can legally live.
"I'm a one-time offender; that's all I want to be," said "T.J.," who agreed to be interviewed if his full name was not published. "I don't want to go back to the prison system."
On Wednesday, the City Council began gathering information to potentially draft an ordinance on residency requirements for sex offenders.
Mayor Mike Rawlings is leading the effort after a News 8 investigation earlier this year found that the city has a large population of sex offenders who are no longer on probation or parole — at least 2,185.
T.J. has watched News 8's ongoing series of reports about the issue, and wanted to share what life is like from his perspective.
"I expect people to understand not every one of us is a so-called child predator," he said. "Some of us screwed up when we were younger, and unfortunately, we are stuck paying for it."
At 21, T.J. had sex with a 16-year-old girl, and a court convicted him of sexual assault of a child.
T.J. was released after serving five years in prison. Though he is a registered sex offender, he is no longer on probation or parole, meaning he can live practically anywhere in Dallas after notifying police and getting permission.
The Dallas City Council might soon change that. It's considering banning any child sex offender from living within a certain distance of schools, day care centers, parks, and even playgrounds.
"To me, it means it's going to be a lot harder to find a place to go when I decide to move out of the residence I live in," T.J. explained.
Other cities have boundaries for those convicted of child sex offenses, but Dallas doesn't.
"What research do you have that you've been able to show that would support your hypothesis that state sex offenders living in a close proximity to child care facilities, play grounds, public parks, and public or private schools, that they are more likely to re-offend?," asked Council member Jerry Allen at a briefing on Wednesday.
"There's no empirical evidence right now," responded Deputy Dallas police Chief Gil Garza.
T.J. said returning to freedom is already difficult. Eleven months after getting released from prison, he can't find a full-time job.
"I applied for WalMart. I applied for Amazon. I have retail experience, and I stay to myself," he said.
Staffing agencies can't place him, either, because of his record,
So T.J. said he works as a laborer and picks up odd jobs he can find online. Good days, he said, are when he earns $60.
"You know, I have to rely on food stamps to try to keep me stabilized with whatever I make in money for working contract labor," he added.
T.J. insists he's not looking for sympathy... just a second chance in society.