Gov. Perry Welcomes the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to Texas
*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Thank you Ernie [Allen, NCMEC President and CEO] and thank you for all you and your team do to protect the most vulnerable among us.
I want to extend my warmest congratulations to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children on this new facility. Dianne [Allbaugh], I know you will lead this center to great success protecting our state's most precious resource, our children, from abduction and sexual exploitation.
The future of Texas depends upon protecting our children and paving the way for them to live and learn in a safe environment.
Texas is currently the second most populous state in the nation and continues to add more than 1,000 people per day. This growth is a testament to our strong and vibrant economy and high quality of life.
It has brought some of the best leaders and innovators in the country within our borders, but any large population is going to have its share of bottom feeders, the sort of misfits who would harm or exploit a child. As the second most populous state overall, we also have the nation's second largest population of sexual offenders. It's a statistical fact that motivates us to be ever vigilant on child safety.
State leaders have worked tirelessly over the years to ensure our laws provide maximum protection and to prosecute those who would harm our children to the fullest extent of the law.
I'm proud to be here today with our attorney general, Greg Abbott .an inspirational leader who has maintained a laser focus on defending the defenseless in our midst. Greg is an incredible advocate of our children's safety and has made notable progress on the apprehension and prosecution of this especially notorious class of criminal.
Texas has been a pioneer in developing resources and programs to address all forms of violence and sexual abuse. In 2002, we established the AMBER Alert Network which has played a key role in spreading the information necessary to recover abducted children and reunite them with their families.
In 2004, at my request, the Legislature took action to reform Child Protective Services, taking steps that have significantly lowered CPS investigator caseloads, and reduced the number of children removed from their homes.
Just last year, Texas was the second state in the nation to enact a law requiring every school district to adopt a dating violence policy. This approach has made our schools safer, putting systems in place to deter teen dating violence and help heal its victims.
Just last year, I was proud to sign legislation that made Texas the latest state to adopt a version of "Jessica's Law." This measure allowed judges to apply the death penalty for repeat sexual offenders. Since then, that law was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, but our state remains committed to seeking the toughest punishment allowable for this sort of predator, including the sentence of life without parole.
So we will continue to build barriers between these twisted individuals and their prey. However, we cannot change the reality that we live in a fallen world. Evil is real and does not discriminate in its choice of victims, but when those victims are children, it is utterly intolerable. As a civilized society, we must do everything we can to protect the most innocent among us.
I understand that many of you here today have been personally affected by the unspeakable actions of child predators and I extend my condolences to you. I could never truly grasp the pain you carry, but I can tell you as a father of two incredible children, I am committed to continuing the fight to rid our state of such criminals, and hold them accountable for their actions.
Texas will be a better, safer, state with the presence of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I am proud to have them here and I wish all you who take part in their mission the very best.
May God bless your efforts and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.