State moves 9 'violent' sex offenders into one Austin property - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

State moves 9 'violent' sex offenders into one Austin property

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Residents of University Hills and Windsor Park in East Austin have been getting a lot of cards from the state telling them registered sex offenders are moving nearby.

"I am on my own. Which makes it, you know, a little scary. We want to live in a neighborhood that has a positive image. You want to be able to walk around the neighborhood and feel safe," said Laura Shirey.

Shirey has been living in the neighborhood for about 15 years.

She says her zip code already has a large number of registered sex offenders and they've recently learned that a group of so-called violent sex offenders have moved in at the Burke's Supervised Living Center on Wheless Lane.

"To know that there was such a high concentration in one property is a little disconcerting," she said.

According to the Houston Chronicle, these violent sex offenders came from a halfway house in Houston -- the contract was ending on housing them there.

We are told the state moved 21 offenders to a Houston neighborhood and nine to Burke's here in Austin.

Toni Taylor, the director of Burke's Supervised Living Center says the facility has been there for 30 years.

"Men of all walks of life...MHMR, people on probation, people on parole, people from the VA," Taylor said.

Taylor says they did get nine clients over the last few months who have done their time but still need supervision.

She says although they're labeled "violent" -- they haven't given her any issues.

"That's what they've been called but I can tell you that since they've been here they've been nothing but manner-able, polite, clean, well-spoken. They have therapy sessions here 2 to 3 times a week," she said.

Taylor says the sex offenders that do live there all have highly sensitive GPS ankle bracelets on. So the minute they step out into the street, law enforcement will swarm the place.

"We have 24-hour camera surveillance here which I monitor at all times. I have live-in staff. They all live here on the property. There's never a time they're not supervised," she said.

Shirey says there are some in the neighborhood association that would like to see the sex offenders gone from the property but Shirey says she would like to meet with the 'Burke's' management first.

"It's definitely a 'not in my backyard' kind of issue everywhere but...do we want a high concentration of these individuals just down the street from schools? Including a new charter school 'Austin Achieve?' Probably not," Shirey said.

The neighbors have reached out to State Senator Kirk Watson. Watson tells FOX 7 through a statement:

"People have good reason to be very concerned. I join them. There needs to be a thorough review of this situation so people can have their questions answered. I'm exploring the situation and will work with state officials and my colleagues in the legislature to address it," he wrote. "People have a right to be safe, and they have a right to feel safe."

We tried to contact a representative with the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management -- they're responsible for moving the sex offenders here.

They have not returned my phone call or e-mail as of news time.

We also briefly spoke with the neighborhood association president. He says if it's legal for sex offenders to be there, so be it...he just wishes places like this could be dispersed through other parts of Austin. He feels like East Austin seems to be getting them all.

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