Changes on how sex offenders are monitored in Austin
After many problems were cited at the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management. The state agency was forced to undergo an overhaul. FOX 7 found out exactly what those changes mean.
Eight months ago Mark Tucker moved into an apartment complex in East Austin, but he had no idea who was living across the street. "When my kids come over I try not to even leave the vicinity. It's very concerning," says Mark Tucker, East Austin resident. The Office of Violent Sex Offender Management began receiving criticism after placing dozens of offenders in residential neighborhoods without notice. Nine of them at Burke's Supervised Living Center. "Sometimes you'll see maybe twenty people outside and I see kids over here. They're very close to children," says Tucker. This situation sparked an investigation into the state agency, where many problems were found. Marsha McLane was elected as the new executive director of the agency in May; she says things were chaotic. "There weren't any personnel files here at all. There were no files to show what activity had taken place. There was nothing that would show in the last year these people worked on these issues," says Marsha McLane, Office of Violent Sex Offender Management. She is hoping to turn things around and gain back confidence with the public. Moving forward, the agency aims to better monitor the treatment that sex offenders are receiving and make sure they aren't violating any rules. "Really get first hand knowledge of what happens when alerts come in, what do they do, how quickly are they monitoring those alerts, how quickly are they taking action on it, or if everybody is doing what they are supposed to be doing," says McLane. The agency wants to set sex offenders on a path that will allow them to graduate, something that has never been done in the history of the program. "One of the things I've done in the last month is hired a program specialist in sex offender treatment. They are going to be scouring the world to make sure what we're providing is pretty much state-of-the-art," says McLane. The agency is also looking at different vendors that will secure residential beds to house sex offenders. In the future, McLane says those neighborhoods willreceivee major notification, but they are changes that Tucker says won't make a difference. "There's no way. I like the apartment but I just can't live comfortably," says Tucker.