The Texas Legislature on Thursday voted to update the state’s mugshots data, as well as the other state databases, for the 2018 school year.
The changes were prompted by a new statewide mandate to compile the statewide sex offender database and the mugshots of sex offenders.
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Greg Abbott signed the law on Wednesday, and lawmakers also approved a bill requiring police departments to release information about the mugshot of convicted sex offenders, which would include the date of arrest and the identity of the offender.
The updated databases will be available through the Department of Public Safety’s online portal, DPS.gov.
A database that was created last year was supposed to be completed by Dec. 1, 2018.
In a statement, Abbott said the law will help police and prosecutors better identify offenders, while also helping the public and the courts more quickly identify offenders.
“Texas is the safest state in the nation when it comes to public safety and we must continue to keep our communities safe, so I have signed into law the necessary legislation to protect the public’s right to privacy in their personal data,” Abbott said.
“Our state and local law enforcement agencies should be able to access the information they need to protect themselves and their communities.”
A statewide sex crime database has been in use for more than 30 years.
The law was enacted in 2011 and was intended to help the state track the sexual assaults of young men and women.
The Texas Tribune would not identify the victims of those crimes because of privacy concerns.
In addition to the updated Texas databases, the bill also allows the governor to update those databases with information about convicted sex criminals.
The governor has the power to delete those records.
A total of 4,723 sex offender arrests were made in the state in 2018, according to data from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Public Safety.
A total of 5,819 convictions were made for sex crimes in 2018.
A report commissioned by the Texas Legislature earlier this year found that the state had the second-highest rate of reported sexual assaults in the country, behind only California.