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Parole rates rise for convicted sex offenders in Texas

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In the 1990s, Texas took a hard look at crime and imposed some harsh policies on prison time consequences, often referred to as the three-strikes-and-you're-out era. Twenty years later, these inmates are finally being released. However, the state has maintained its grip on more released inmates than ever, increasing parole impositions on a high number of supposedly free ex-prisoners.

Currently, the parole approval rate in Texas has peaked, at 40 percent. However, the approval rate is even higher for those with serious sex crime allegations, topping the charts at 60 percent. According to some, the high parole approval rate is due to a state effort to keep released individuals supervised and in treatment.

The state of Texas has a civil commitment program in place for certain, serious sex crime convictions. This means that although an individual may be sentenced to a certain period of time in prison, upon release they will be subject to continued parole and treatment requirements that extend far beyond the original sentence length.

Other states have similar civil commitment programs for sex offenders, but more often require inpatient treatment participation rather than outpatient treatment, like Texas. Some of these civil commitment programs have been challenged as unconstitutional because they require convicted individuals to remain confined beyond the length of the original prison sentence.

Sex offense accusations can be severely damaging to the accused. Often, convicted offenders experience aggressive prosecution, increased jail time and future personal life troubles due to sex offender registry requirements. On top of this, Texas' civil commitment program for sex offenders means that for some convicted offenders, state monitoring of the individual's life will extend far beyond a prison sentence. For these reasons, it is crucial to be aggressively defended whenever accused of a sex crime. The consequences of a conviction can be dire.

Source: American Statesman, "Parole rates surge to avoid unsupervised releases," Mike Ward, May 15, 2012

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