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,