When Marsha McLane showed up to her new job as directing the embattled Texas agency that supervises the most violent sex offenders, she found her office stacked with dusty cardboard boxes, dead crickets littering the dirty carpet, no computer and telephones that did not connect with those of any other employees, reports the Houston Chronicle. Wanted posters of sex offenders decorated the walls. McLane quickly determined that most of her agency’s 26 employees worked from their homes, as had her predecessor, apparently for years. The Office of Violent Sex Offender Management was an agency without a headquarters.
The focus of a raft of ongoing investigations, the office is responsible for residential programs for more than 300 sex offenders deemed too dangerous to be released back into society. Instead, the men are kept in state custody via civil commitments after serving their criminal sentences. Experts question whether the Texas program can withstand a constitutional challenge because of the way it is being operated. Although it is supposed to be a treatment program for sex offenders with “a behavioral abnormality,” not a single detainee has successfully completed treatment and been released in the program’s 15-year history. Allison Taylor, McLane’s $84,000-a-year predecessor, resigned last weeks amid controversy over her decisions to relocate high-risk sex offenders into residential neighborhoods in north Houston and in east Austin, and contracting to build a center to house at least 50 offenders in a rural area, all without letting residents and local officials know in advance.