AUSTIN (AP/CBSDFW.COM) - People with a history of domestic violence are now easier to track. The Texas House of Representatives debated and passed House Bill 21, creating a domestic violence registry, similar to the current Texas Sex Offender Registration Program maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
State Rep. Jason Villalba joint authored House Bill 21 with Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer. Once enacted, people who are convicted three times or more of domestic violence will be required to register as a repeat offender. The domestic violence registry will be available free online and will include the names, birth dates and recent photographs of the offenders.
"Domestic violence is a growing epidemic with tragic consequences," said Rep. Villalba. "By establishing a registry, we are making information available to warn potential victims. By making these repeat abusers known to the general public, we are giving people the tools they need to make informed decisions and prevent potential abuse."
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the total number of reported Texas family violence incidents in 2011 was 177,983. Of these, nearly 40 percent involved violence against a spouse, nearly 16 percent was a result of violence against a child, and 44 percent involved violence against another family member.
In Texas statute, domestic violence is defined as an act by a member of a family or household against another family member intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat placing the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, not including self-defense measures. It also includes abuse by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household and dating violence.
For more information about family violence in Texas, see the 2011 Crime in Texas report available on the Texas Department of Public Safety's website.
There are several battered women's shelter's offering safety, support, prevention and social change for victims of domestic violence in North Texas: SafeHaven of Tarrant County, The Family Place, Genesis Women's Shelter and Denton County Friends of The Family.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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