In another rebuke of Texas policies for classifying parolees as sex offenders, a federal judge has ruled that top state parole officials can be held personally liable for continuing missteps, reports the Austin American-Statesman. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel blasted the state’s continuing refusal to provide due process hearings before imposing restrictive sex-offender conditions on felons never convicted of a sex crime.
Yeakel said the seven-member state Board of Pardons and Paroles, 12 parole commissioners, state parole director Stuart Jenkins, and other officials can face monetary damages for their actions. It’s a significant determination that could prove costly for both the officials and taxpayers, if several pending inmate lawsuits are successful. A jury verdict in another case two years ago cost the state approximately $80,000. Yeakel’s order — the latest ruling to indicate that federal courts have lost their patience with the state — came in a suit filed by parolee Buddy Jene Yeary. Last fall, the judge blocked the state from enforcing the sex offender restrictions — officially known as Special Condition X — on Yeary, an unusual step for a judge.