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Resource ID: #26935
Subject: Sex offenders
Source: Houston Chronicle
Affiliation: 
Date: 4/3/2014, 4/27/2014, 5/31/2014, 9/28/2014, 9/30/2014, 11/7/2014, 12/14/2014, 12/29/2014, 12/31/2014

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Description

The stories spotlighted a little-known state agency and civil commitment program that purported to be a treatment program for convicted sex offenders, revealing questionable and abusive practices and raising questions about its constitutionality. In addition to uncovering the details of questionable contracts, the stories revealed a systemic and ongoing failure by state officials to conduct the civil commitment program in accordance with state law, best practices, and its overall constitutionality. Unlike civil commitment programs in other states, Texas' program effectively operated as an additional criminal punishment for some of society's least sympathetic offenders, forcing them into a purported treatment and educational program no one has successfully completed in its 15-year history. The stories have sparked a nearly completed housecleaning of the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management leadership and plans for a revamp of the entire program. The state district judge who oversees most of the court cases involving the civil commitment program also is the subject of an investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. In addition to a series of investigations and a state audit underway, legislators have called for an overhaul of the program and may revisit the original authorizing law.

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