The agency responsible for placing nine sex offenders in East Austin is undergoing some major changes. A board meeting was held Saturday morning in hopes of turning things around.
It's an overhaul for the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management. "We want to do everything we can to restore public confidence in the agency, in this board and most importantly in this program," says Christie Jack, Chair of Office of Violent Sex Offender Management. A three member board met Saturday to discuss the fate of the program. This comes after it was plagued with controversy for more than a month. "There are three schools within probably a half-mile of these guys. Little kids, medium sized kids, exactly their target," says Martin Luecke, Windsor Park Neighborhood Association President. An agency with a mission to enhance public safety is seen by many as doing the opposite. Confidence was lost after dozens of high-risk sex offenders were relocated to residential neighborhoods in Houston and Austin without advance notice. Nine of them were placed at Burke's Supervised Living Facility in the east side of town. Senator John Whitmire has been calling for an investigation into the agency since April. He spoke to us by phone at that time. "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," says Senator John Whitmire. He explained that most of these sex offenders received shorter sentences in the 90's because there was not enough prison space. The law has changed since then, to where most of them would be serving life without parole. "They ought to put them in a remote location, in an industrial area, in a criminal justice setting," says Whitmire. Executive Director Allison Taylor resigned Thursday and it was accepted by the board Saturday. They hope this will help turn things around. "I think the future of the board is much better now that we have Marsha McLane at the position of the executive director. I think there are going to be several things that change. We're going to meet much more frequently and we are going to have a much more transparent agency going forward," says Jack.