Houston Matters

Is the State’s Sex Offender Program Working?

The state agency responsible for supervising, monitoring and providing treatment for the most violent sex offenders in the state is undergoing some sweeping changes. Among the problems faced by the recently revamped Office of Violent Sex Offender Management: a shortage of housing for sex offenders released from prison and a perception that the state’s civil commitment program […]

The state agency responsible for supervising, monitoring and providing treatment for the most violent sex offenders in the state is undergoing some sweeping changes. Among the problems faced by the recently revamped Office of Violent Sex Offender Management: a shortage of housing for sex offenders released from prison and a perception that the state’s civil commitment program is nothing more than a thinly veiled prison sentence (since 2001, of the more than 360 convicted sex offenders ordered into the program after serving their sentences none has completed treatment and been set free). That’s due in part to a restrictive rules violation policy, which has sent more than half of those in the program back to prison despite not committing any actual crimes.

Today, we discuss the restructuring of the state agency, and what may be done to address these policies.

We talk with Jessica Marsh, General Counsel for the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management, and Houston-area attorney Nancy Bunin with Habern, O’Neil and Associates. She’s represented several men in the program and questions its constitutionality.

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