As many as 3,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Texas are on probation or parole in their new home state but most are probably living under no form of supervision, says the Dallas Morning News. State officials are providing their names to local authorities because they could be suspects in new crimes. In letters to many police chiefs this week, the Texas Department of Public Safety provided the names and criminal histories of the evacuees and urged local authorities to consult the list to “develop possible suspects for certain crime problems that have advanced since Hurricane Katrina.” “It is a huge concern,” said Kathy Walt, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry. “We are going to continue working with Louisiana to assist them to get these people back.”
The evacuees should have reported their status as probationers and parolees to authorities, but most have not. Some cities – Houston, above all – have complained that evacuees caused their crime rates to spike. The city accepted 150,000 evacuees overall, and it has received $20 million from the U.S. Justice Department to pay police and fire expenses for its suddenly enlarged population. The list is believed to be the state’s first master list of evacuees who left behind their criminal histories in Louisiana, where the hurricane destroyed some evidence and criminal records. Texas has not made public the names of the people on its lists or their crimes.