Monday, September 28, 2015

Texas' civil-commitment program still flailing; violating its conditions no longer a crime

Despite all the changes to Texas' sex-offender civil commitment process this spring, most of which were necessary to comply with various court decisions, the program continues to look like a hot mess.

The state is still working out kinks in its revised program at the recently un-shuttered prison unit in Littlefield, where dozens of offenders have been moved. But to the extent that change solved any problems, it has also created new ones. Reported the Houston Chronicle (Sept. 27):
Since Sept. 1, as part of reforms to Texas' nearly 16-year-old program, from which no one had never graduated to freedom, the state has moved more than 180 offenders from halfway houses in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso and Austin to a re-purposed private prison in Littlefield, about 40 miles northwest of Lubbock. Even as it's getting started, substantive questions loom about whether the new program can be as effective as envisioned.

In relatively short order, officials concede the program struggled for months to find a site where it could operate, creating a new regimen program that will withstand mounting legal challenges. Officials' latest difficulties include how to provide effective mental health and therapy services, as well as jobs and resettlement programs, in a remote community in West Texas where those opportunities are mostly non-existent.

Most of all, the therapeutic program that's housed in a former prison, must not be a prison.
Littlefiled is in the middle of nowhere, so the chances of those sorts of treatment or reentry services cropping up there are slim and none.

In related news, recently Texas' Eighth Court of Appeals ruled that, based on new amendments to the law passed this spring, it is no longer a crime in Texas to fail to follow complete treatment under a sex-offender civil commitment plan. Moreover, the changes in the law are retroactive for all cases which have not resulted in a final conviction. In that case, the 8th Court of Appeals overturned a life sentence assessed for violating civil-commitment rules. And it probably won't be the last time that happens.


Anonymous said...

"which have resulted in a final conviction" should be "which have NOT resulted in a final conviction"

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Quite right, fixed it.

Scott Pawgan said...

As the trial attorney in that 8th court of appeals case and an appellate attorney having oral argument week from Thursday on one of these civil commitment violation cases, I can tell you that Mitchell case is limited to those who were violated for not successfully completing or participating in treatment. That is the item that the legislature specifically criminalized. While this will apply to most violation cases still pending, either in appellate courts out trial courts, it will not cover all people with criminal cases pending that are not final.

Anonymous said...

The Civil Commitment program is not working. There are people in the program that had jobs and were up rooted to Littlefield. It did not matter that the therapist stated the person was ready to go out into the community, and if you don't listen to the therapist then why are they in treatment. Also feel this program is so unconstitutional, the person has served his time been detained more years never to be released, why don't they just leave them in prison which is really what is happening anyway. Senator Whitmire said the people in Littlefield were happy to have jobs but it's not about them it's about the people you have locked up under the pretense of providing treatment, and if there are no jobs in Littlefield for the residents how in the world will these guys ever be able to find jobs when and if they are ever able to go out and look.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks for clarifying, Scott.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know if it's against the law for a convicted child-molester to take daily strolls on foot and bicycle directly past two elementary schools and a couple of daycare centers? Asking because everyone that knows and finds out about this daily and nightly lerking occurrence assumes that it is and assumes that the police, the principles and daycare owners would detain him or, call someone vs. knowingly allowing this to go on for four years.

Add that to the crapload of red dots on a sex-offender location map that completely surround both elementary schools and the daycare centers and one can't help but wonder why is our city allowing this?

Maybe it's not against the law or his parole requirements and we all need to join those currently ignoring the child-molesters down at the school yard.

Or, this is one of the reasons why the crime rate is being promoted as being low, no crime, no rate increase.

George said...

@anonymous 12:42

If he/she is on parole or probation then, yes, it's most likely against the law to go within a certain number of feet of a school or day care center. Some municipalities have certain ordinances that make it illegal for any registered citizen to go within a certain distance from these places.

However, if this has been going on for four years, have there been any issues stemming from this individual's going and comings on this route? There's a mountain of evidence, hard empirical evidence that these residency restrictions do no good and in many circumstances do harm.

There's a great deal of evidence that shows that our approach to dealing with people who have been convicted of sex offenses are myopic, misguided and bass ackward. The recidivism rate for citizens who are required to register as a sex offender is very, very, low -- various studies show anywhere from 5% to less than 1%, and has been for as long as records have been kept. A recent study released from the California Department of Corrections shows a multi-year study indicates a recidivism rate of registered SO's at .8%, that's less than 1%!

This is what I think Mr. Anonymous, I think you are one of the "sheeple" who will believe and buy pretty much anything that is tossed at you. The half-truths, myths and outright lies that have been spread concerning the citizens around you that are required to register as sex offenders do basically nothing to protect children or anyone else. This mass hysteria concerning registered citizens has gone on for much too long, it serves very little purpose other than for politicians' election fodder, media attention getters to pad their ratings and for private companies to make money off of, i.e. gps monitors, sex offender locator map apps etc.

Have you, or any of your neighbors, ever attempted to talk to this citizen that you are writing about? Have you ever thought that if he hasn't committed a new sex offense in the four years living in your community that maybe he's not the threat that you think he is? There are other "dangerous" citizens living around you, the ones most likely to molest children, or anyone else, are your neighbors that aren't on the registry. Murderers, drug dealers, people who have physically and mentally abused children can live all around you and you have no problem with giving them a second chance.

Don't believe everything you hear about registered citizens. Make an attempt to get to know this person -- if nothing else to let him/her know that you care about your neighborhood and want to keep it safe. You just might find out a lot about those around you and quite a bit about yourself as well. It's our duty as morally conscious citizens to seek and learn the truth about everything around us and not to simply accept something as being factual when in so many cases it simply isn't true.

Anonymous said...

You where being very helpful right up until your alter ego decided to write what he thinks in the 4th, 5th and 6th paragraphs where you went left with the sheeple shit and suggested that neighbors with children and wives consider hugging it out with pervs. You comment a lot here and make good ones at that but this one is where you took it a lilbit too far. Now, all of your comment is just plan old defending George and trash you would have a better chance hawking to the Reddit bunch.

George said...

@anonymous 12:07

You're entitled to your opinion, but it's evident you are responding in a defensive manner. I didn't suggest sending your kids to go hug it out with anyone. The point I made was to point out that the vast majority of these "pervs" as you label them, will never sexually offend again.

So, since you want to call me out on this, this is what I think of you. You are a fool, and an ignorant one at that. Now, that's my alter ego talking! You have no idea what the truth is about any of the issues concerning registered citizens. It's evident that you're merely spouting off what you've heard and equally evident that you don't have the intelligence to search for the truth.

People said...

Why are these men being charged to be in Civil commitment,Ask Ms.Marsha,she knows.Why are the men whom did not sign the letter to become in patient from out patient, why are they geting punished in Littlefield,They were placed at the beginning of the program on level 1.After all the money spent in Austin for Treatment and Level 1 is the Result?Are us Tax payers geting all those Million Dollars Back?Why are we people letting these people keep taking out Money?We need to Remove John Whitmire from Office and put a Stop to this Unconstitutional Program that has Not released a Person. Can a Lawyer file a lawsuit for mismanaging our State Funds?Meanwhile the therapist got paid in Austin for years and no success.

People said...

When are we going to hold this Program responsible for Running a Unconstitutional Prison?Littlefield has these men in a Secret Prison,Marsha also needs to be Removed,this is a Mess Program!Lets go Judges and Texas place the Truth and make this Program Unconstitutional! Let stop all our Tax payer Money being Wasted.The treatment and class can be done in Tdcj.They are playing with these Men Lifes and This needs to Stop! Stop! Stop Already!The Courts gave them Time to Serve and they are Done,Done!Everyday is a Waste and how would Whitmire or Marsha feel if they lived in Littlefield away from Family ?????Its 2015 How much Longer?