Sunday, April 05, 2009

Woman Listed as Sex Offender for Five Years Because of Data Processing Error

Luckily for her, DPS says it's sorry.

The Texas Department of Public Safety apologized Friday and accepted blame for mistakenly posting a Dallas woman's name and photo on the state's sex offender Web site for nearly five years.

"After investigating the facts in this case, it is clear that a data entry error at DPS led to this mistake," said DPS spokesman Tom Vinger. "DPS deeply regrets the error and apologizes for any inconvenience."

The woman, Rachel Marquez, 20, of Dallas, said she's glad DPS admitted its mistake...

Marquez learned she was on the list when she tried to move into a new apartment. Managers denied her application and informed her she was a registered sex offender.

Marquez logged on to the Web site to see for herself.

"My heart just dropped," she said. "How could this be me?"

The problem apparently stemmed from a minor trespassing arrest in 2003 when she was 13 years old. A data entry operator at DPS mistakenly checked the "sex offender" box on her entry, automatically publishing her information on the sex offender registry, Vinger said.

"Just someone clicked the wrong thing and it happened," she said. "That's crazy, that I had to be the one, you know?"

Given the severe consequences for being branded a sex offender, including restrictions on residence and employment, Marquez should sue the state for everything it can get.

This is just another example of the abusive nature--and inaccuracy--of the sex offender registry. One error can scar a person for life.

UPDATE: Excellent article on the case against adolescence. Teenagers may not have the same judgment as adults, but they need experience to teach them how to be adults.