State Senator John Whitmire, chair of the senate criminal justice committee, confirms that the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management had planned to purchase property in West Liberty County to house the convicts. The offenders are among more than 300 men held indefinitely by the state under civil commitment ever after they've completed their prison sentences.
"It's a dangerous population, the worst of the worst. And this agency is very secretive about what they're doing with this population," Sen. Whitmire said.
However, Sen. Whitmire says he has blocked the process. He says the offenders currently live in a temporary facility in northeast Houston near the McCarty landfill. They were recently moved to the Acres Homes area of Houston, but were taken away after several community protests.
Liberty County Judge Craig McNair says nobody ever told him or other county officials about the possibility of the offenders coming to Liberty County.
"You would think they would come before the Commissioners Court, wouldn't you?" McNair said. "I think it was somebody trying to slip something in on us."
The office was the target of an outcry last month when it quietly moved 28 sex offenders into the Acres Homes area in north Houston, but were taken away after several community protests. Sen. Whitmire says the offenders currently live in a temporary facility in northeast Houston near the McCarty landfill.
State Sen. Robert Nichols, a Jacksonville Republican whose district includes the proposed Liberty County site, said he was informed by Allison Taylor, the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management's executive director, that the $500,000 facility will not be built because the successful bidder does not own the site and cannot buy it.
"They are looking for another site to build it on," he added.
The contract was awarded to former Houston Police Department officer Jeffrey Larson, who was charged in 2008 with theft of between $100,000 and $200,000 from the Houston Police Officers Union, where he was the treasurer. He pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor charge of misapplication of fiduciary property and received deferred adjudication in 2011.
The Office of Violent Sex Offender Management has not yet responded to our phone calls or emails. State law does not require the agency to notify a community of its plans, only that public notices be distributed after registered sex offenders move into an area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report