A New Scarlet Letter

A Texas judge forces sex offenders to broadcast their crimes with house signs and bumper stickers

Gabriel Trevino did a bad, bad thing. Three years ago, at age 31, he fondled the 14-year-old daughter of a friend. For this "slipup," as he calls it, he pleaded no contest and took five years' probation rather than risk a two-to-20-year prison term. Now he thinks prison would have been preferable. These days, people drive by his modest bungalow house, then back up to read the 18-in. by 24-in. sign posted by the little white birdhouse. DANGER, it says. REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER LIVES HERE.

Sitting by the front window in his darkened living room in Corpus Christi, Texas, last week,...

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