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Senator calls for review of sex offender placement policy

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Some neighbors in East Austin residents say they are tired of being a dumping ground for sex offenders. Now there could be a review of the state agency behind all of this.

The sex offender registry lists more than 1,500 sex offenders in Travis County. A large concentration is here in East Austin, which has many people wanting to know why.

Violent sex offenders being placed within neighborhoods...

"There are three school's within probably a half mile of these guys...little kids, medium sized kids, exactly their target," Windsor Park Neighborhood Association President Martin Luecke said.

That's something no parent wants to hear about, but it's happening. The Windsor Park Neighborhood Association says residents are fed up.

"East Austin has been a dumping ground for a very long time...all kinds of offenders, not to mention halfway houses of various kinds," Luecke said.

But it's not just Austin, it's all across Texas. Houston Senator, John Whitmire, wants more regulation.

"They ought to put them in a remote location, in an industrial area, in a criminal justice setting," Whitmire said.

He will be requesting a review of the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management, the agency behind the placements.

"We want a review of who's responsible for that and make certain that's not the view of the legislature nor the view of the public, they used really poor judgment," Whitmire said.

Whitmire tells us his decision to move forward stems from a recent situation where 39 high-risk sex offenders were found living at a halfway house in a Houston neighborhood.

Nine of them were placed at Burke's Supervised Living Center temporarily in East Austin.

"Most people are very, very concerned about such a large group of sexual offenders, predators if you will...all living under one roof essentially...all within a very short distance of a whole lot of families.

We decided to take a deeper look to find the zip codes and areas most heavily populated. Ranked first is 78723 in East Austin with 183 sex offenders, followed by 78753 in North Austin with 126 sex offenders. Then 78745 in South Austin with 117 sex offenders and 78741 in Southeast Austin has 106 registered sex offenders.

"They got relatively shorter sentences back in the early 90's, mid 90's because we were out of prison space. Now we have plenty of prison space and the law has been changed to where most of these individuals would serve life without parole."

Since last Friday, we have tried reaching the Executive Director of the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management, Allison Taylor, but our calls haven't been returned. We even stopped by their office. Senator Whitmire's office hasn't had much luck either.

"That's a darn shame, an agency ought to call you back. In fact, when I get off the phone that's the next call I'm going to make," Whitmire said.

"I don't know if you ship them out to farms or not...I don't have an answer for that but I know you don't sit them in the middle of neighborhoods like this."

Since there has been so much discussion about this issue... The Windsor Park Neighborhood Association will be meeting Saturday morning to figure out what can be done.

The mayor's office tells us if you want to voice any safety concerns, you can come to the city council meeting on Thursdays at noon.

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