Mayor's office wants to crack down on parole violators

The Mayor's office is making a big push to track down parole violators in Houston and Harris County.

Here's an excerpt from Mark Garay's reporting for KTRK-13:

The man arrested for the abduction and rape of a Houston woman was out on parole when it happened last week. In fact, he was a fugitive.

That's the problem the mayor's victims' assistance office is taking on. They tell us there are hundreds of violent parole fugitives in Harris County. They're out on parole, but the county has no idea where they are.

The good news is that the man suspected of raping a 57-year-old woman is behind bars. The bad news is, he's been in and out of jail for 30 years. Long sentences have been reduced to parole. He's a convicted violent felon who was unaccounted for prior to his arrest Monday. Sadly, his story is just the tip of the iceberg.

"Basically, he's got a rap sheet a mile long," said Andy Kahan with the Mayor's Crime Victims' Assistance office.

[snip]

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has a parole office here in Houston, but officials there declined comment on the Anderson case. Instead, they referred us to their state office in Austin.

Of the more than 3,200 fugitive parolees, 78 had committed sex offenses and 58 were convicted of homicide. When you add kidnappers, arsonists and other violent criminals, 494 felons in Harris County are roaming the streets unaccounted for.

Kahan said, "They're basically telling you, 'I don't care, I'm not going to abide by my rules and conditions of release. So what on earth makes you think I'm going to abide by anything else?' "

With so many parolees loose, Kahan and his office petitioned the last legislature to charge absconders with a felony. Currently, captured fugitive parolees face technical violations, which don't guarantee additional jail time. But Kahan's efforts to make absconded parolees more accountable fell on deaf ears. He hopes cases like this one might make lawmakers think twice.

"There are catalysts for everything," he said. "And if a case like this can help us pass that law, then there's nothing I like better than turning a negative into a positive."

Jeremy Desel reports on the matter for KHOU-11:

Anderson was on parole and had a fugitive warrant issued against him.

To be a fugitive, Anderson had to do more than just not check in, he vanished.

Anderson is far from alone. There are literally thousands of offenders on the run in Harris County alone.

Robbers, rapists and even murderers are among them.

"As of December of 2005 you've got 3,256 fugitives from parole and these are all felons," Kahan said.

Of that total, 219 are robbers, 78 are sex offenders and 58 are murderers.

That number includes one, Lester Ray Brown, who has been on the run since 1975.

Charles Anderson had actually been paroled twice. In 1989 he was paroled on his aggravated robbery rap. He was sent back to prison after being convicted twice for DWI and twice for misdemeanor drug possession.

Paroled again in 2001, he became a fugitive in October.

Kahan said the difference between fugitives like Anderson and a high profile escapee like Charles Victor Thompson is small. "The only difference is he's serving the time in your community. Escapee's whereabouts unknown. Declared a fugitive. Nobody knows. We treat it like night and day. Nobody knows. That's got to change," Kahan said.

Kahan's position probably seems like common sense to a majority of Harris County residents.

Of course, common sense often eludes the Chronicle's Editorial LiveJournalists, whom we've twice documented complaining about enforcement of parole requirements in Harris County.

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Posted by Kevin Whited @ 01/11/06 10:26 PM | Print |

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