TEXAS HEARTBREAK by Preachers Wife

 TEXAS HEARTBREAK by Preachers Wife

Most of you, my readers, know by now what civil commitment truly is so I will not go into detail but tell you of my husband’s and my personal experiences that we have and are living with at this time. You may want to refer to some of my earlier blogs to refresh your memory or learn more about the subject.

In 1999, Texas jumped on the merging bandwagon of civil commitment. At that time the theory and the practice more closely resembled the law for rehabilitation. Sex offenders committed to the civil commitment program had the choice to live at home or in a halfway house and receive outpatient treatment, attend management classes for anger, substance abuse or any other classes deemed necessary by the court. Most of the offenders were on parole and required to wear a GPS tracker. My husband was one of these men able to live at home, be employed, attend church and to be supported in his treatments.

Sixteen (16) years after Texas began its’ civil commitment program changes were established because the men were scattered across the state and not one man had successfully completed the program and re-entered the community. The changes were brought about after an investigation into a poorly managed and ineffective program. Today’s program is as much a failure as in the past and maybe even more so for the lack of medical care and the essentials necessary to thrive.

In 2008 Michael Seiler was appointed by then Governor Rick Perry to be the only Judge of the only Court to hear sex offender civil commitment cases in Texas.

My husband was paroled in 2013 and placed into civil commitment. Less than 100 days after being paroled he was brought back into court and ordered to be sent to a halfway house as were other men living in the community. My husband was taken immediately from the court, put on a bus and delivered to El Paso, Texas. He was transported from South Texas to more than halfway across the state of Texas. This was in September and in November the nightly temperatures in El Paso, Texas drops below freezing and the days barely warm up to a moderate temperature, my husband asked his case manager for a warm coat. Her answer to him was “you will get a coat when I feel like you have earned it.” My husband tried for days to compensate then finally called home to request a coat. His phone call was recorded, and he was pulled into the case manager’s office to explain the call. After he made the explanation, the case manager called the El Paso County Sheriff to come and pick up my husband and he was charged  with a felony. She had the right to do this as all sex offenders sent to the halfway houses were required to sign a contract stating that if they violated a house rule, they would automatically be charged with a felony. The house rules numbered over 100. 

My husband was extradited back to the only county and judge handling civil commitment cases. He sat in the county jail for over two months awaiting another hearing. At the hearing the Judge found him guilty of a violation of a civil commitment rule for which he received another eight years in the state penitentiary. At this time my husband had been removed from parole as he had discharged his sex offense prison mandated sentence. Technically he was a free man. His new sentence started in 2014. 

Within the next two years the Texas State Supreme Court found that sending a man back to prison for rule breaking unconstitutional. The men sent to prison for rule breaking were given an opportunity to appeal with the result being that of being sent to the Texas Civil Commitments Center in Littlefield, Texas. My husband and 96 other men chose to serve their time in the state prison rather than appeal the conviction. This was due to the fact that the GEO run Correct Care Solutions had horrific stories of abuse, mistreatment, and other tales of malfeasance circulating.

Management and Training Corp (MTC) took over the operation of the Texas Civil Commitment Center in 2019. There is little change in the type of operation of this also for profit prison operator. There are staff shortages, staff on resident abuse, assaults, medical neglect, and common disrespect for human dignity and life.

My husband has been fortunate in the treatment he has received since arriving in Littlefield. He is over the average age of 57 and is more interested in trying to work his way home than dealing with or starting a battle of wits with the staff and security. This is not to say that he has escaped all mistreatment. His first evening at the unit, he made the mistake of calling one of the security staff “boss man” as was required in prison. Another officer intervened and informed his co-worker that my husband had only just arrived and had not yet been to orientation and made aware of the rules and policies of the unit.

This is not to say that there haven’t been small skirmishes since that day. The security officers have been told in training, that these men are less than human and should be treated as such. I live in fear every hour that one of the officers or staff may assault my husband or worse. He has medical problems but at this point in time they are being taken care of. He is one of the few men receiving medical treatment. The majority of the men who make a complaint of illness are told to take a Tylenol and go back to their cell. Due to this inconsistence treatment there have been men who went back to their cells only to die. Earlier this year there was a resident with a pacemaker who made a request to have his pacemaker battery recharged. To recharge a pacemaker necessitates going to a hospital. He was refused by the medical staff, told that they could not afford to take him, and sent back to his cell where he passed away because of heart failure due to an insufficiently charged battery.

For the first year of my husband’s incarceration at this unit there were no therapy classes being held and no one-on-one therapy sessions. There were two reasons for this situation. The first being lack of staff and the second was the spreading of Covid-19. By the grace of God my husband had his Covid shot and boosters up to date. He had received his shots and boosters while in the state prison.

In the past few weeks, the third Chief of Therapy and numerous therapists have left the employment at MTC due to the lack of moral ethics and refusal to let them give the treatment mandated by the court. 

Men are being held in segregation in violation of state law. The isolation is named erroneously Safety Management Unit. The SMU is meant to hold someone who is acting out, having a mental break or being aggressive. The time limit in isolation was set up to only be up to 72 hours. Isolation is not meant to be jail time. Unfortunately, there over a year and are still being held there. MTC is not allowed to have a jail and there are no jail standards for this unit. There are no certified jailers among the staff or security officers. SMU as it now are men being placed into isolation and held for more than ninety days and then receiving extensions to that time limit. There are men who have been in isolation for stands flies in the face of the State laws. There have been numerous attempts to obtain the State of Texas attention to what is happening at this facility. 

An additional problem is a recurring one of being demoted in a tier level progress for any reason that a therapist, staff, or administration deem necessary as punishment or retaliation. There has been an incident reported of a resident who had reached a top level only to have a security officer (SO) make a report that the man used profanity toward him. The resident was punished by being lowered in his progress thereby not allowing him the opportunity to be conditionally released into the community or return home to a waiting family. After receiving the punishment, the resident went back to his living quarters and hung himself. During the investigation it was found that the resident had not used profanity and the report was erroneously made because the SO had a personal problem with the resident and retaliated against the man.  

The men must battle daily with psychological warfare. When requested to report on another resident, refusal to do so can earn the resident a drop in tier level as well as other types of harassment and punishment. Residents of this establishment must cope with the derogatory attitudes of the SO’s, staff, administration and volunteer workers who come in everyday with the knowledge that they are able to mistreat the residents without the possibility of consequences. 

My husband and I live with the knowledge that no matter how hard he strives to prove himself ready to come home, he could have to start anew at any time. Sometimes the resident will be held back in progress because his case manager or therapist has changed, and the process must begin again. This type of shortage is only part of the lack of progress and failure of the civil commitment program. The men may only be released once the therapist, case manager, Chief of Therapist agree that a review can be held to determine the mental status of the resident. Should the resident make it through to the next review then the head of the Texas Civil Commitment Center Office must sign off on the release. This person has not signed a release from Civil Commitment for any resident. She has signed a few conditional releases letting the men work and live in the community. This individual was once married to a man who during the marriage was convicted of child molestation. This woman has made it very apparent that she is biased toward the sex offender and has no conscience toward warehousing the offenders for the rest of their lives and with little attention to their physical well being or mental health.  In the passing of time, she has given herself two large raises in five years, bringing her annual salary to over $240,000.  Her raises are the result of saving money by providing medical neglect, not paying vendors for services, serving inadequate meals, and sanctions against the operators of the unit for staff shortages. 

This type of saving money constitutes theft no matter what is said in an attempt to justify fraud. 

An additional cost-saving measure for MTC is to require those residents receiving support to provide their own bed linens, personal hygiene, civilian clothing including any special apparel i.e.: winter coat, gloves, exercise clothing and non-perishables to eat. Because there are families and those who care about the resident, this cost to them often works a hardship, especially for people who live on a fixed income. Trying to provide phone service and a trust fund along with the necessities is as stressful for those on the outside as the loved one on the inside. There are residents who are allowed t.v.’s, game equipment, Bluetooth players, and streaming devices. If one of these residents should receive severe punishment, he could be forced to give up these entertainment devices. They are to be placed in a locker until such time as the resident has served his punishment sentence. On occasion there have been incidents where the equipment has unexplainably been lost or mysteriously disappeared. 

To be able to visit with my husband on a Saturday or Sunday or both days, I must call the unit administration office on Monday and ask permission to visit. I am told that I will receive an answer about the visit between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. There have been a few occurrences when I had to call the unit on Friday morning to see if my visit was allowed. Once I was told I would have to wait until Friday afternoon because the person doing the vetting of the visitor requests had not finished his work. I was notified at almost 4 o’clock on Friday afternoon that I would be allowed to visit for four hours. I drive three hours one way for the visit and afterwards must drive back home for another three hours. Very few men who are housed in this unit have in-house visits due to the distance families and loved ones must travel across the state. The town only has two motels, both of which charge exorbitant fees because they can. I am grateful that I am able to make the trip in one day.  To have a visit most of the residents have to settle for a zoom type of visit on a tablet. The resident must come to the visiting area to have the tablet visit. Visits in person or by tablet are monitored by a security officer. 

This week I learned that the operator of this Shadow Prison has made new limitations on the length of time and the frequency of visits to the law library and the use of telephones by the residents particularly the residents from SMU. These rules have yet to be posted in public places within the unit or added to the handbook of rules and regulations for the residents. This is a common practice at the unit to make rules on the spot to satisfy the need of the person writing a disciplinary against a resident or for retaliation purposes. 

The only way to correct the deficiencies of the civil commitment centers in the 20 states is for the public to awaken to what is actually happening and not the window dressing of the legislatures, the investors, and media with their own agendas. If only one person dares to stand then eventually others will also stand. It is never too late to be the strong one to stand against an injustice. I ask you to stand with me in this fight ” encourage others to also become a part of making the public aware of a serious wrong. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” Barack Obama.

Thank you for your time and I hope that you find it in your heart to speak out against this violation of human dignity or any other injustice that is being hidden and denied. 

 

PREACHER’S WIFE

“WISCONSIN BINGO” – Preacher’s Wife Blog

“WISCONSIN BINGO” – Preacher’s Wife Blog

WISCONSIN BINGO

LETTER I

INVOLUNTARY CIVIL COMMITMENT

 

Not a state to be left out of the criminal justice trend, Wisconsin jumped onto the band wagon of CIVIL COMMITMENT in 1993, after Washington State became the first state in 1990 to enact civil commitment laws. The next state to enter the newest form of criminal justice was Minnesota to align with the views of Washington State. After Minnesota the encampment grew to eighteen (18) more states.

The Wisconsin Act 479 set into motion the act of involuntary civilly committing certain individuals who are found to be sexually violent persons (SVPs). The procedures described in Chapter 980 of the statutes became effective June 2, 1994. The statute also states that individuals who engaged in acts of sexual violence before that date may be committed as SVPs under the statute’s provisions.

 

COMMITMENT CRITERIA

 

As defined in the state statute a person who has been convicted of a 

 

  • Sexually violent offense,
  • has been adjudicated delinquent for a sexually violent offense or,
  • has been found not guilty of or not responsible for a sexually violent offense by reason of insanity or mental disease, defect, or illness, and,
  • who is dangerous because he or she suffers from a mental disorder that makes it more likely than not that the person will engage in acts of sexual violence.

 

SEXUALLY VIOLENT OFFENSE DEFINITION

 

  1. First degree sexual assault
  2. Second degree sexual assault
  3. First degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 13
  4. Second degree sexual assault of a child under age 16
  5. Engaging in repeated acts of sexual assault of the same child under age 16
  6. Incest with a child
  7. Child enticement 

 

SEXUALLY VIOLENT OFFENSE

 

Sexually violent offenses may include any of the following offenses if the offense is determined to be sexually motivated, which is described as one of the purposes for the act if for the offender’s sexual arousal or gratification.

 

  1. First degree intentional homicide
  2. First degree reckless homicide
  3. Second degree intentional homicide
  4. Second degree reckless homicide
  5. Battery, substantial battery, or aggravated battery
  6. Battery, substantial battery, or aggravated battery to an unborn child
  7. False imprisonment
  8. Taking hostages
  9. Kidnapping
  10. Burglary and finally may include 
  11. Any solicitation, conspiracy, or attempt to commit any of the previously listed offenses. 

 

Any adult person or juvenile who has finished a court mandated sentence for a sexually violent offense may now find themselves being committed as an SVP.

 

In Wisconsin, the civil commitment center is located in the community of Mauston.

The name of the institution belies the truth of what they really are. The name is Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center. When speaking of Sand Ridge, it would sound as if one is talking about an apartment complex and not a prison creating indescribable misery for people confined for life. The facility can be found approximately a mile from residential neighborhoods and is surrounded by fields, forests, and an industrial park.

Sand Ridge opened in 2001 about 70 miles northwest of Madison. It is one of the largest employers in the area with 537 full-time positions. Previously to being sent to Sand Ridge offenders were sent to state facilities for the mentally ill. 

Sand Ridge was built in 2001 with 300 beds at a taxpayer cost of $39 million. In 2009 an additional 200 beds were added. The offender population has since declined. In 2012 the facility had a budget of $50,9 million, up from $37.3 million in 2007. 

The advent of civil commitment centers has opened up a plethora of employment opportunities. The least of these being in the mental health field. There are now numerous employment opportunities for psychologists and social workers within the civil commitment institutions,  a place for persons committed under sexually violent predator (SVP) laws.

Once an offender is committed to Sand Ridge, psychologists evaluate his progress in treatment each year and use this historical data on recidivism to determine the offender’s risk level.

As with a large majority of civil commitment centers, the centers  seldom appear as treatment centers, mental health hospitals or any medical service provider. These centers are surrounded with double fences topped with razor wire and an electrified inner layer. A large majority of these units are securing the premises with an armed security guard while inside the guards carry pepper spray and flashlights. The units appear to the general population (society-at-large) as another maximum-security prison. This appearance is not deceiving due to the fact that the people living within the housing are treated less than prison inmates. Abuses, medical neglect, psychological warfare, and deliberate attempts to discourage any family support structure or support of any nature is rampant among civil commitment centers. 

There have been six incidents of patient-against-patient physical assault since Sand Ridge began tracking incidents in mid-2011. There have been no incidents of sexual assault reported.

The visitors that are permitted within the Sand Ridge walls must first clear a metal detector then a gate in a razor wire fence and several secure doors.

There are few if any commitment centers that provide courses in skilled labor or trade programs such as construction or electrical. The types of jobs available to inmates (residents/patients/clients) are usually kitchen jobs or janitorial positions. The pay for these positions will vary from state to state. In Wisconsin, the pay starts at $2 per hour and may only increase as treatment progresses. In Texas the offender may not hold an in-house position until they reach tier 3. The pay is the federal minimum wage of $7.80 per hour. Taxes, fees, savings, and recovery costs are taken out of the check by the operating unit. Recovery cost is 25 percent of the total check. The residents are only allowed to work four hours per day.

 In the Wisconsin case of Branden Sustman vs. Steve Watters, Director (Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center) et al, 06-C-293-C. Mr. Sustman stated that he was punished in violation of his substantive due process rights when the defendants deprived him of access to his job, school, church services and the game room because he would not sign a statement against another patient. This type of punishment occurs on a daily basis in most if not all of the civil commitment centers. The coercion used here is typical of psychology warfare abuse without any consequence to the abusers for their actions.

 $141,400 per year is the average cost per sex offender and are among the most expensive patients that the taxpayer dollars pay to lock up, feed, keep healthy and to treat the men at Sand Ridge. This amount is what Wisconsin taxpayers paid in 2013. 

Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center was originally built to hold 300 prisoners but increased in size to accommodate 500 men. The center showed an occupancy of 300 men in February 2014.

Why is the cost so extreme? Kevin Moore, deputy secretary of the state Department of Health Services, 2013, said in an interview by WisconsinEye, that Sand Ridge must not only provide 24/7 prison-like security, room, and board but also adopt new, better treatment methods as they become available. Sand Ridge requires about 1.5 (is the .5 employee a midget?) employees for every SVP. Mental Health specialists who treat SVPs have unique, expensive skills.

Treatment is difficult at Sand Ridge as it is with the centers who fail to keep staff employed to provide the court ordered treatment. How can men progress in treatment when the operators are short staffed and cut individual hours of therapy as well as support groups? These operators of the civil commitment find that being short in clinical staffing is twofold. Men cannot progress in treatment, thereby continuing to serve life sentences and saving the cost of treatment if only for short periods. States are hesitant to sanction these places for staff shortage.

In the five years preceding 2014, 114 offenders have been released, compared to only 31 released in the previous five-year period.

In May of 2018, the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled that defendants need not be informed that pleading guilty to certain sex crimes will subject them to lifetime GPS monitoring because that requirement is not a punishment.

After a sex offender is released, they then must submit to the wearing of a GPS tracking system. Sex offenders convicted of sexual offenses involving minors are required to wear GPS transmitters on their ankles for the rest of their lives with the following exceptions:

 

  • If they leave the state
  • Become permanently incapacitated,
  • Successfully petition a court for relief after 20 years.

Trackers can cause blistering, especially when wet, creates a noticeable bulge and is visible whenever the offender wears shorts or sits down. A speaker can be used to issue commands or reminders which can be heard by anyone within earshot of the offender. The offender also has to sit near an electrical outlet one hour a day to recharge the tracker. They are required to pay for the use of the tracker.

Along with facilitating constant surveillance, GPS tracking is an obvious visible sign that marks anyone who wears it as someone to be shunned, feared, despised, and perhaps worse. This mark of shame compounds the stigma associated with registration as a sex offender. According to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, public shaming is incidental to the primary purpose of the tracking device, which is regulatory rather than punitive. 

The Wisconsin Supreme Court also said that the use of GPS provides a middle ground between releasing a dangerous sex offender into the public wholly unsupervised and civil commitment. Those required to wear a conspicuous ankle monitor are forced to stay in their inclusion areas and out of the exclusion areas for the rest of their lives.  The legislators of this law feel that those wearing ankle monitors should shut up and be grateful that they get to walk about in public at all. To think that these legislators are taking taxpayer dollars and using their own biases to make new laws. Laws they apply to people who have served a prison sentence, then worked their way through treatment to release only to be imprisoned again by a GPS tracker until they die. 

It is of utmost importance that sexual offender treatment is available during incarceration for sexual offenders. Consideration for release on parole or other reductions in intensity of services should use information from treatment, particularly validated measures demonstrating risk reductions and treatment gains. Transitional services are a vital component for maintaining community safety. Prison treatment in conjunction with community-based reentry services reduces the risk for future sexual reoffending (Lowden  et al., 2003). This information is based on the ATSA Civil Commitment: One Approach for the Management of Individuals Who Have Sexually Abused, 2020., Shaming the Constitution, Michael L. Perlin and Heather Ellis Cucolo.

 “Justice Clarence Thomas writing for the majority in Hendricks, speculated that civil commitment would be reserved for only a “narrow class of particularly dangerous individuals….after meeting the strictest procedural standards. That supposed “narrow” class becomes quite expansive when states broaden the group of individuals who fall under the statutory definition of committing a “sexually violent offense,” and the likelihood of a scenario—cautioned about by Justice Anthony Kennedy in his concurrence…where civil commitment become{s} a mechanism for retribution or general deterrence is greatly increased.”

The entire SVPA process is cloaked in confusion and infused with fear and differences in legal and medical definitions creating imprecision and arbitrariness.

In spite of the overwhelming data demonstrating the fact of low recidivism rates for sexual offenders as compared with other criminals, bias and stigma surrounding sexual offenses is the fire fueling legislation. Current studies are ignored, and disregarded, while unfounded myths form the basis for new legislation.

Lawyers and mental health professionals are confronted with new, challenging roles in SVP cases. The laws that necessarily involve those with legal and medical training were unfortunately poorly designed to integrate the two fields because of the political backdrop against which such legislation is adopted. Americans overwhelmingly support restrictions on sex offenders, and collateral restrictions on that population are typically  passed unanimously with no debate [23], It should not be surprising then that SVP statutes seeking to unite law and medicine have failed to accomplish the basic requirements of either field. AMA Journal of Ethics, Policy Forum, Oct.2013 Civil Commitment for Sex Offenders.

The same legal and medical professionals who agree that the medical and legal fields poorly integrate also state that only about 2 to 5 percent of those who are civilly committed actually need to be confined. It is their opinion that if the vast majority of those re-incarcerated need more therapy, they should be able to receive it as an outpatient.

With such a low rate of convicted SVPs not belonging in civil commitment then the question to lawmakers, psychologist and those involved  in committing men to civil commitment is why is the number for SVPs growing rather than reducing? The most obvious answer would have to be that civil commitment centers are cash cows for the local economies they are serving.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I will gratefully accept any personal knowledge or information that you may have regarding civil commitment or if you wish to disagree with what has been written, contact me through this website.

If you have enjoyed reading the blogs on this website, please donate to help writers like me and others to continue to write and for the website to be a voice for the voiceless.

PREACHER’S WIFE

CIVIL COMMITMENT MINNESOTA STYLE

CIVIL COMMITMENT MINNESOTA STYLE

 A prison by any other name is still a prison as long as those who are confined inside are not free to pursue their God given rights as stated in the United States of America Constitution and Bill of Rights.

As Americans the Bill of Rights provides these freedoms among the ten:

    • Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
    • Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.
    • Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
  • Right to due process of law and double jeopardy.

 

These rights are totally ignored for people convicted of a sexual offense and who are free men with the completion of a court ordered sentence. Where in the Constitution or Bill of Rights is there permission to sentence a person to an indefinite incarceration for a crime not yet committed? 

Over forty-six years ago, the idea of a “sex offender” was an invalid conception. In the almost half-century since the only change has been that a cottage industry has developed and grown around the principle “sex offender treatment”. It feeds off the criminal justice system and the mushrooming Treatment Industrial Complex.

Minnesota has a dirty little secret. In Moose Lake there is a high-security facility surrounded by fences topped with razor wire, out of sight, and definitely not in the minds of the citizens of the State of Minnesota. Some inside of these walls have completed prison sentences while others are yet to be charged with a crime. This is only one of two state-run facilities.

This secret is not Minnesota’s alone. There are 19 other states operating in the same style of hiding away civil commitment centers.

Washington and Minnesota along with programs of a similar nature paved the way after a rash of state laws passed in the 1990s, because of an increase of hysteria and fear from society, as an aftermath of emotional outbursts of several heinous sex crimes.

In the case of a civil commitment in Minnesota, the court orders a person into treatment based on mental health concerns. Two of the six reasons for mental health concerns are

  1. Sexual Psychopathic Personalities (SPP) – Persons who have an utter lack of power to control their sexual impulses as the result of a mental disorder and therefore pose a danger to the public; and 
  2. Sexually Dangerous Persons (SDP) – Persons who have a mental disorder who have engaged in and are likely to continue to engage in harmful sexual conduct.

The Moose Lake facility was opened in 1995 after the state revised the laws and expanded the use of civil commitment. This was done to provide “treatment to people who were committed as sexually dangerous persons or sexual psychopathic personalities,

After an individual has served the court ordered prison sentence, a civil court the hears the same evidence presented at the original trial. The original trial found the person competent to stand trial and without any “so-called behavior abnormality or mental health problems”. The state prosecutors now add allegations and testimony from shopped paid experts who will state the person’s potential to commit future crimes. Wonder if they hide the tarot cards and/or crystal ball in their pocket while testifying? All of society would live so much better if we each had the same crystal ball to direct our lives. 

Once the former inmate is convicted, his title changes to “client” and he is now having to serve an indeterminate (life) sentence. It is illegal in any state to hold someone beyond the length of their court ordered prison sentences. States get around this by calling these units treatment centers rather than admit they are a prison. The housing buildings are usually secured facilities with razor wire, guards, room searches, and monitored calls and mail call.

The commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Human Services, Emily Piper, stated that only 4 percent of sex offenders in Minnesota are civilly committed. The Department of Human Services are in charge of overseeing the state’s sex offender program. As in the other civil commitment states, these despicable places are supported by taxpayer’s dollars and any funding that can be drained from the families and supporters of the incarcerated. There are few who can afford to be almost total support for their loved ones and more who have limited income or fixed incomes. It is always the goal of most parents and loved ones to be able to support their families in the best way possible wherever they may have to reside.

From an article written by a “client,” Inside Minnesota’s Contested Sex Offender Program by Matthew Feeney, May 24,2022, “Because they are required to provide treatment, the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) appears to invent new class material, including “Cinema Therapy,” during which clients watched “Tom & Jerry” cartoons. They call prison yard and recreational time “therapeutic hours” and toilet scrubbing “vocational training.” This type of therapeutic treatment is not uncommon. 

As with other states’ civil commitment programs, the goal of the program is to provide a mental health treatment to the offenders, and to release those who are deemed ready for life on the outside.

Only 4 percent of Minnesota’s sex offenders are civilly committed. Photo by William Brangham

In the last two decades, no one has ever been fully released. More than 40 have died while in commitment. The oldest man here is 94, and several are older than 70.

This type of situation exists at other civil commitment centers. It is true that men leave the unit, but they are released on conditional release. This is not a release from the civil commitment program and any violation, technical or otherwise, can force the person back into confined incarceration.

There are also more than 60 men living here who are locked up for crimes they committed as juveniles, meaning they do not have any offenses on their adult records. 

According to Elizabeth Letourneau, who runs the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at John Hopkins University, the cost for supporting these individuals is approximately $125,000 per year, per offender. There are over 700 men in civil commitment. That is triple the cost of what is spent by the state to lock up someone in a regular prison. These statistics are from June 28, 2016, PBS NewsHour.

MINNESOTA LEGISLATURE’S RESPONSE

 
Despite the lowest recidivism rate of any group of offenders, the stigma that follows an individual convicted of child molestation and other sex offenses still looms large in Minnesota. In response to news of Opheim’s release, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proposed a change to the state’s sex offender release notification system. The law previously required notification when a sex offender moved into a community, but not into a halfway house. The state legislature voted 127-1 to expand the notification to include any “residence facility.” In Texas inside the county housing the Texas Civil Commitment Center, each resident is listed on the Lamb County Sex Offender Registry although they are confined in the prison. 

Minnesota’s prosecutors and legislature brag about their success of sending offenders to civil commitment. They claim that their success rate is at least 67 percent. 

The media along with the blessings of the judicial system and society have let the fear of the sex offenders, a minority that is despised and feared by Society and  that includes many people who pose no real danger to their fellow citizens  trump traditional concerns about due process and just punishment. Bringing these cases into the open and asking for another hearing is at this time, the best possible means to undo the damage done. 

An example of the abuse by the Judicial System of Virginia can best be describe in the case of Baughman v. Commonwealth. Found on the website of Just Future Projects is the following abbreviated version:

Victory in Supreme Court of Virginia against out-of-control prosecution

Justices declare effort targeting leading advocate illegal, ending 5-year court battle

On Thursday, the highest court in Virginia ended the Commonwealth’s 13-year campaign to indefinitely detain a prominent advocate on criminal justice matters, Galen Baughman. In a victory for justice the Supreme Court ruled that the petition filed against Baughman in 2017 was illegal.  Baughman v. Commonwealth

Outrage Against Injustice

Virginia legislator Patrick Hope (D–Arlington) described the situation in an op-ed published immediately before Baughman’s second trial in 2019: “The [Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS)]-hired psychologist found Baughman did not meet the criteria and recommended his release. The attorney general’s office ignored that finding, went outside the law and hired a second expert. This expert did not interview Baughman, but nonetheless claims that Baughman meets the statutory criteria. At trial, Baughman’s defense attorneys may not present the results of the 2012 civil commitment trial or the results of the DBHDS psychological assessment, nor can they present qualified psychological expert testimony. His trial… serves as a prime example of how the SVP laws are unjust and unfair.”

As long as the judicial system, legislatures, and society are accepting of any medical diagnosis by a person engaged in treating sex offenders as gospel, the basis of new laws there will be aberrations such as Civil Commitment existing. It has been shown that the psychiatrist and psychologist, (mental health community) are not in total agreement concerning the mental illness of persons convicted of a sex offense(s). If these medical professionals are at odds with each other how can we accept their word as the only way to treat a sex offender and write laws according to their evaluations? Even in the medical community patients are encouraged to seek a second or more opinions when they are not happy with a diagnosis or prognosis. Yet, we as a public and society are eager to accept any solution that quells our own personal bias, hatred, and fears. Until people can speak openly and fairly about sexual offenses, we are the PREDATORS. Predators anxiously grabbing up anyone who has committed a sexual offense, alleged to have committed an offense of a sexual nature at any time in their past, to lock them away from everyone and everything that keeps their heart beating. To add to isolation, these people must accept and endure in-house abuse, physical and/or psychological and the trauma instilled from such inflictions. These people are humans and not some disposable unit to throw away. Who is watching the watchers?

 

CITIZENS

When will the awakening begin and we see the light of the evil of abusing any class of people regardless of race, color, creed, religion, or crime? What has happened to the American belief in second chances for all? Are second chances now in the same category as justice? Justice is for those who can afford it. As taxpayers, do we really think that locking away certain types of people indefinitely will make us safer? Everyday crimes of a heinous, despicable and pain inducing nature are occurring on our streets while we hold people in incarceration that by law are supposed to be free men who could be building a productive life as citizens of a democratic nation. Could our tax dollars not be better spent educating our children in what is a normal feeling, who to tell when something horrendous happens to them, how to know who they can trust, treating them when they become traumatized and treating those that with true mental health problems who are seeking help? Wouldn’t it be better to teach everyone that humans are people not a set of labels? Just as the men who committed crimes and created victims, they are now the victims of a flawed system with abusive guards, and medical neglect. When does justice, equality, fairness, and treat others as you would be treated begin? Are Americans so devoid of love for their fellow man and is kindness relegated to a sink hole so deep it can’t be recovered?

Thank you for reading my blog and I look forward to doing a blog on all 20 states with civil commitment laws and centers with a hopeless future.

I encourage readers to donate to this website as I would be but a voice in the wilderness and possibly going unheard.

PREACHER’S WIFE

 

 

SHADOW PRISON OR CIVIL DEATH?

SHADOW PRISON OR CIVIL DEATH?

My name is “Preacher’s Wife” and I am writing this first blog to attract and draw attention to a deplorable condition created by the media, judiciary, legislative, wealthy investors, and society to contain people who are equally feared and hated. The media has conditioned the public to buy into their false truths and biases of people convicted of a sex offense.

Civil commitment usually happens to a person convicted of a sex offense after they have already served their sentence for their crime and without having violated any other laws. This form of involuntary confinement is based on the risk assessment of a psychiatrist or psychologist who has had no more than a couple of hours with the individual to determine if he may commit an offense in the future. Fortune telling without a crystal ball. You will spend the entirety of your life incarcerated due to the fact that you might commit another offense if you are released. Recidivism is less than one percent for the sex offender. Civil commitment could best be described as punishment after the punishment.

In most states the standards of proof for committing a person to civil commitment are m lower than in the criminal system, and judges who decide these cases often side with prosecutors in almost all cases. The expert witnesses are compelled to agree with the prosecutor and judges in order to testify.

Civil commitment began in Washington State and Minnesota in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This began a national trend. There are currently 20 states, Washington D.C, and the federal government participating in sending men to civil commitment.

Media and the judiciary have convinced society that it needs the most desolate, isolated places to move sex offenders into after they have completed a court ordered sentence. Media has focused on the label “Worst of the Worst” and helped the mental health field to create a new term for sex offenders. The title is Sexually Violent Predator or Sexually Violent Person (SVP) and is currently the byword of the media, judicial system, and society for all those who have been convicted of a sexual offense. The world has built “Shadow Prisons” to house these men indefinitely under the guise of treatment. The operators of civil commitment pretend that prisoners are patients but treat them as inmates. A number of these civil commitment centers are managed by for profit prison corporations.

Media tells Society that we are safe from sex offenders. Who is safe? Is it the public at large, is it the children who are disappearing from their homes, parks, and the streets or is it the person out for a jog or a walk and never able to come back home? No, nor is it the abused, mistreated, maligned, and denigrated sex offender housed in a false treatment environment without any hope of leaving. Who protects the former inmate classified as a client, patient, or resident?

According to UCLA Williams Institute School of Law, October 2020 there are thousands of people in Civil Commitment after serving their jail or prison time. There are over 6,300 people detained in 20 states and federal civil commitment. It is almost a certainty that this number will increase in the coming years. Approximately 1–5% of United States sexual offenders being released from prison will be civilly committed

Today I will discuss Texas Civil Commitment as I am most familiar with the actions as a Texan who cares about man’s inhumane treatment of their fellow men and women. I also encourage anyone from another state with civil commitment to feel free to contact me with additional information about their state’s version of civil commitment.

Texas Civil Commitment begins with Health and Safety Code 841.081 of the Texas Statutes. The Sexually Violent Predator’s Act was first enacted in 1999 establishing a “civil commitment procedure for long term supervision and treatment of the sexually violent predators”.

CIVIL COMMITMENT OF PREDATOR. (a) If at a trial conducted under Subchapter D the judge or jury determines that the person is a sexually violent predator, the judge shall commit the person for treatment and supervision to be coordinated by the office.

 

 

Who is a Sexually Violent Predator?

 

A person is a sexually violent predator for the purposes of Chapter 841 of the Texas Health and Safety Code if he:
1)    is a repeat sexually violent offender; and
2)    suffers from a behavioral abnormality that makes him likely to engage in a predatory act of sexual violence.7

In a small West Texas town with a population of barely over 6,000 people sits a one-story brick building surrounded by fencing topped with razor wire. This is the current home for some who have been judged the most violent sex offenders. This residency is a former juvenile prison detention center and still carries the name of the of the formerly named prison. Texas Civil Commitment Center, Bill Clayton unit.

Men who reside here were removed from outpatient therapy while living in halfway houses and placed into what is supposed to be a more intensive and therapeutic   in-patient condition. This change was due to a state investigation that found the previous operation was poorly managed and ineffective for 16 years. Before the change it was determined that no one had completed the program and/or had been released. There still has been no one at the newer living conditions released from the program. Since 2016 there have been over 30 men who have died at this unit Until the revamping there  began over half of the civility committed men were sent back to prison for violating one or more of about 200 supervision or therapy rules.

As of this writing there are a few men who are living on conditional release but are being asked to return to the unit as “mentors”, a term to cover the fact that the Executive Director, Marsha McLane, wants all the sex offenders back into one location. It has been stated more than once that Ms. McLane has a bias toward offenders being released as before her divorce, her husband was convicted as a sex offender.

This facility was managed by Correctional Care Solutions, a Nashville based for-profit prison company with a two-year contract of $24 million. Currently the unit is managed by MTC, a Utah based for-profit prison with a five-year contract and two two-year extensions. At the latest Legislative Appropriations Request held Sept. 29, 2022, Ms. McLane’s office was asking for $49 million to operate Texas Civil Commitment Center. The first three months of Management Training Corporation (MTC) contract from May 1,2019 to August 31, 2019, required a payment of $6,000,000.00

MTC provides over 100 employment positions to the City of Littlefield. The original prison closed in 2009 leaving Littlefield to pay off bonds incurred by building Bill Clayton Juvenile Detention Center. The Texas Civil Commitment Center has saved Littlefield in excess of $750,000 of annual debt payments by buying through Management Training Corporation (MTC) the prison land and the buildings.

The treatment program consists of four tiers. After completion of the fourth tier, Marsha McLane determines if the resident is ready for the fifth tier. This consists of going back to the county of their conviction to work and live under the supervision of a case manager. Supervision consists of wearing an ankle monitor (GPS tracking device) for 24 hours, 7 days a week. The case manager may visit at any he or she chooses even if that is at 2:00 o’clock in the morning or at any other hour chosen. The released person must ask permission to open the blinds or curtains on windows. They must seek permission to visit a friend or have a friend visit them. This is only a small example of a multitude rules an offender must sign to be released. Any small infraction is a reason to be violated and returned to the civil commitment unit.

Ms. McLane states that it expected that these men will graduate, get out on their own and to do what they need to do to be safe and law-abiding citizens. She has said that the Texas Civil Commitment Center is not a warehouse for sex offenders. This is not the truth as warehouse is an accurate description of how the men or housed and taken care of. Until this past week therapeutic treatment was almost nonexistent due to lack of therapist and a Chief of Therapy. Lack of staff makes it almost impossible for a resident/client to move to the next tier. How are men to advance to the next tier when the only therapy they are receiving is group therapy once or twice a week. For most of the current year individual therapy has been lacking due to staff shortages. This made it impossible to advance as the courts have ordered that both must be given as treatment to move from one tier to another.

Security staff has been informed during their training that these men are the worst sex offenders alive. They are not to be believed or treated with humane courtesy and respect. This training style sets in motion the idealism of abuse is permitted. Abuse by an office is a sign of heroism to other like officers. Verbal abuse is rampant but physical abuse is more subtle and longer lasting. The entire staff from therapist to security engage in psychological warfare. Residents are threatened that if they do not tell on their fellow resident for an infraction real or fabricated then he will be brought down a tier or more. Should a resident tell on a friend, he will still be dropped in tier status and ostracized by the community of men he has to live with. This facility makes a point to hire previous Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice officers with a large amount of excessive use of force. These people were asked to resign from TCJ in lieu of termination. Needless to say they could be classified as experts at instigating a situation and encouraging escalation to be able to use force against the resident and remove him to solitary confinement known as a Safety Management Unit (SMU). Currently at the Littlefield unit there are at least 6 men in SMU. This is an illegal jail without the use of a jail standard or certified jailer.

Along with lack of therapeutic staff, the medical staff is a mere skeleton crew. Because this facility is managed by a private for-profit prison medical care and mental health care or of little concern. The bottom-line incentive is the love of money called profit for the corporation and investors.

Civil commitment centers are often the targets of a multitude of civil rights suits due to violations. In Texas, MTC was heard to say that putting men into isolation or a mock jail is their right. In 2017 Texas Department of Criminal Justice discontinued the use of solitary confinement as punishment along with the Federal Government. MTC declares because they are a private organization, they do not have to follow the state guidelines. This organization receives their money through the Texas Civil Commitment Office who receives the monetary gain from the Corrections Committee and Human Health and Services (Taxpayer). The taxpayer picks up any and all bills for MTC and the Texas Civil Commitment Office. Who can believe their audacity to rebuke state laws? They are not unlike the larger majority of civil commitment facilities. Most civil commitment centers operate outside of any meaningful methods for judicial review and accountability.

Not only does this unit take the taxpayer dollars, but they also follow their predecessor’s rule of charging the resident a recovery cost of any monies, incomes, gifts, or boxes received from home. Correctional Care Solutions collected 33% but MTC has a reduction. They only take a 25% recovery cost. A spouse may send $100 a month without a fee and a care package according to the rule of the current tier. Anyone else sending anything to the resident must include a receipt of the item(s) and a money order for the 25%. If a spouse sends another money order, then they must include the 25% cost. During the pandemic all of the stimulus checks received at the unit for the men was taxed at the 25% rate. At the tier 2 level if a resident is not indigent, they must provide their own sheets, pillowcases, blanket and comforter or bedspread. They must also provide their own civilian clothing, personal hygiene, over the counter medications, laundry products, cleaning products, mechanical items such as beard trimmers, electric razor (batteries to operate them), and entertainment items i.e.: t.v., gaming equipment, MP3 players etc. They must be responsible for any costs of items that they are allowed to possess.

In closing, there are possible solutions for decreasing and abolishing civil commitment centers. Data shows that community-support circles decrease the rates of sex offender recidivism. Nearly 600 professionals working in the field of sex offender management believe that community treatment and supervision are a viable means of reducing recidivism.

From EveryCRSReport.com Civil Commitment of Sexually Dangerous Person, July 2, 2007. Data show that released rapists and other sexual assaulters were less likely than other released violent offenders, other than released murders, to be rearrested and reconvicted within three years of being released. This data suggest that rapists and other sexual assaulters, in terms of recidivism for any type of crime, may not be a greater threat to recidivate than other released violent offenders.

Thank you for reading,

Preachers Wife