Texas has a really low bar for putting people on the central registry. This can affect people for the rest of their lives, hindering their ability to maintain employment, ruin relationships, and effect future children or even their grandchildren. It has far-reaching implications and should not be taken lightly. Little evidence is needed for someone to get what’s called a Reason To Believe disposition in Texas (see Evidence Policy). Basically, a person can be deemed “guilty” of abuse or neglect even when there is not enough evidence to find that person actually guilty of abuse and neglect in court. This disposition is based on the subjective opinion of a CPS investigator. But how can this be?
Some states have actual hearings before a person’s name can be placed on such a Registry. Furthermore, multiple states have avenues to have names eventually expunged in varying degrees over time, for lower level types of offenses after specific conditions are met, and even allow for a legal petition for name removal. Abuse and Neglect Registries are problematic when they deprive citizens of rights without the fairness and equity of true Due Process. Texas is one of the many states that does not have a viable way to remove a name that should not be there; additionally, Texas, does not have a timed automatic name removal that would allow names to be removed after they have “served their time” on the list. Why have many other states deemed it appropriate and found a way to give their citizens Due Process? Considering the fact that all it takes is an anonymous phone call to destroy a family (see Anonymous Reporting Policy) the Institute believes that it is imperative to change the way the Registry operates in Texas. This should be a priority!