Investigation into paroled predators prompts action in Austin - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

FOX 26 investigation into paroled sexually-violent predators prompts action in Austin

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

These guys are not your run of the mill sex offenders.

Why?

Because the likelihood that they will re-offend is so great the state had them civilly-committed as sexually violent predators.

"You have to be like the top of the line, one of the supreme predators to even be considered," said crime victims advocate Andy Kahan.

"Since 1999 we've reviewed over 48 thousand sex offenders and there's 278 that have been committed to this program," said Allison Taylor, the program's director. "So we're talking about an extremely dangerous population."

The state's civil commitment program is a last resort measure.

In fact it's the only way the state can keep track of sexually violent predators who've served all their time and must be released.

"Some of these guys although while they may have 4 offenses of record they have hundreds and hundreds of victims they were never caught for," Taylor said.

In January a civilly committed sexually violent predator by the name of John Michael Enard ditched his GPS tracking device and fled from this halfway house.

That's when Fox 26 Investigates discovered Enard and 10 other civilly committed sexually violent predators were actually allowed to leave prison early on parole.

"This scenario that you and Fox news has opened up as a result of Enard busting out of the halfway house has opened up the proverbial Pandora's box," Kahan said.

And boy did it.

"I'll be honest with you when you brought it to my attention I was surprised, totally surprised and quite frankly I think we should have discovered it sooner," said State Senator John Whitmire.

In a senate hearing on Tuesday Whitmire made no bones about his concerns.

"We never anticipated someone being on parole and in the civil commitment process in fact I think it jeopardized the constitutionality of the civil commitment cause they're suppose to be through the criminal justice system," Whitmire said.

Also the senator calls this a waste of resources having these sexual predators under the watch of both parole officers and the state's civil commitment program.

"What do you when there's a conflict," the senator wonders. "What if the parole officer says this and this, civil commitment officer says that."

If the senator has his way inmates who are deemed to be sexually violent predators will either be civilly committed or released on parole, not both.

"You either parole people or you do a civil commitment," Whitmire said.

Whitmire is sponsoring a bill that would start the civil commitment process 28 months before a sex offender is released.

Currently that process begins 16 months before release.

"Hopefully if any good comes out of this perhaps this will be the end of paroling offenders who've been deemed a likelihood to re-offend and need to be civilly committed," Kahan said.

Two nagging questions remain.

Just how many sexually violent predators have been paroled.

We're still waiting for the state's criminal justice system to tell us exactly how many, who they are and where they are.

The other nagging question deals with serial rapist Enard.

Even though he was under parole's most intensive form of supervision, he's been on the run now for 75 days.

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