Video: Banning sex offenders

updated 8/22/2005 12:12:43 PM ET 2005-08-22T16:12:43

Following in the footsteps of towns like Miami Beach, a small Texas town has effectively banned convicted sex offenders from their city limits.

Lawmakers in Brazoria, Texas decided last Monday that sex offenders cannot live within 1,00 feet of areas where children gather.  But since Brazoria is such a small town, those parameters cover every house in the town but one. 

The ordnance, that was passed unanimously by the town council, also makes it a crime for landlords in the area to knowingly rent to registered sex offenders. 

The mayor of Brazoria, Ken Corley, and city councilman, Gary Kersh, who voted for the ordnance, joined 'Abrams Report' guest host Lisa Daniels on Friday to explain their decision.  

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

LISA DANIELS:  Mayor, let me start with you because I‘m curious where you got the idea. 

KEN CORLEY, MAYOR OF BRAZORIA, TEXAS:  Back in February, we‘re in Austin at the Brazoria County Days, and I talked to our state representative and wanted some kind of an ordnance that would prohibit sex offenders from being in the city of Brazoria.  He said it couldn‘t be done, just strictly prohibit them. 

Then basically at that time, we gave up. Then, while watching Bill O‘Reilly on FOX when they interviewed the mayor of Miami, this showed us the way.  We contacted the general city manager, got the information from them, and we took it to our attorney.  We studied it.  We called Texas Municipal League, TML, and we moved forward from there. 

DANIELS:  Mayor, you‘ve got to watch MSNBC more, I‘m telling you.

CORLEY:  Well from this day on, we will. 

DANIELS:  All right.  Councilman, I think most people would agree with the notion behind the idea.  But I think people in your city think you‘re doing a good thing.  But there‘s the argument out there that maybe you‘re doing a disservice to other Americans because the sex offenders are going to be dumped in their backyards.  How do you respond?

GARY KERSH, BRAZORIA, TEXAS CITY COUNCILMAN:  No, that‘s not really true.  I see as unique because it‘s a small type city and there‘s plenty of room to live outside of our city.  So yes, we‘re pushing them out of our city, but there‘s plenty of room for them in the country or wherever they like to live.  Just not in the city of Brazoria at this time.

DANIELS:  Mayor take a step back, if a neighboring city passed a similar law, how would you feel? 

CORLEY:  Embarrassed that I wasn‘t there ahead of them. 

KERSH:  That‘s right.  We took the first step.  They should follow us. 

DANIELS:  True Texas-style answer, I love it. 

CORLEY:  As a matter of fact, we would like for this to go national because this is a national issue.  This issue is not limited to Brazoria, nor is it limited to the state of Texas.  We would hope everyone would adopt this ordnance ASAP.  It‘s way overdue. 

Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.


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