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Sex Offender Agency's Presiding Board Member Quits

Amid heated controversy over the placement of dangerous sex offenders, the presiding member of a board that oversees an agency that manages civilly committed violent sex offenders resigned on Tuesday.

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Amid controversy over the placement of dangerous sex offenders who have completed their prison sentences, the presiding member of a board that oversees a little-known agency that manages civilly committed violent sex offenders resigned on Tuesday.

In a resignation letter to Gov. Rick Perry, Dan Powers wrote that the three-member governing body's small size made it less effective and that in recent weeks, the workload at the embattled agency has become too much. The agency is responsible for overseeing the treatment and housing of sex offenders who have been civilly committed, deemed too dangerous to live at liberty in society.

"With only a three-member board it is impossible to provide the appropriate oversight required for such an important agency," Powers wrote. "Although I have been proud to serve the State of Texas, in recent months the time commitment has gone way beyond the expectations of a volunteer and my job and [redacted] has suffered."

The agency has been in search of a long-term home for some of its sex offenders since the private operators of a halfway house for parolees on the Beaumont Highway in Houston said they could no longer live there.

State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, has called for an investigation into the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management and for the firing of its executive director, Allison Taylor, after the Houston Chronicle reported that the agency had a secret plan to build a center for violent sex offenders in Liberty County. The move to build a facility in Liberty County came after Whitmire and state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, expressed outrage that the agency had moved offenders to a Houston neighborhood without informing local officials or neighbors.

"I just have lost confidence in the agency and its director to do what's in the public interest," Whitmire said in an interview Tuesday.

Rich Parsons, a spokesman for Perry, said that Taylor remained in her job on Wednesday.

Turner said lawmakers must take action to find suitable housing for the offenders who the state has decided must remain under supervision. He said he would ask state leaders to convene a special meeting of legislative budget writers to seek a solution.

The agency, Turner said, should not become a scapegoat for state lawmakers' inability to find suitable housing for the sex offenders.

"The state has not lived up to its responsibility," Turner said. "As a result, they are like a group of people that no one wants." 

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Courts Criminal justice State government John Whitmire Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Texas Legislature