More violent parolees released back to Harris Co.
HOUSTON The number of violent parolees being released to Harris County is on the rise. Some say overcrowding in prisons is partly to blame. Whatever the reason, for one woman the violence is personal. A parolee with a long criminal history is accused of killing her sister. The number of violent offenders released to Harris County has been steadily climbing since 2007, with a dramatic spike between 2008 and 2009. It's a disturbing trend that's beginning to raise some eyebrows. Three months ago, 53-year-old Renee Longoria was murdered inside her Heights-area apartment. "She loved unconditionally," said her sister, Denise Gaskin. "She helped anybody she could. Gaskin says she thinks about it every day. "I ask why? How come?" Gaskin said. Houston police arrested and charged her roommate William Stone, 47, with murder. As it turned out, Stone, who's been in and out of prison since 1983, allegedly killed Longoria two months after he was paroled for a drug conviction. Just because Stone wasn't serving time for a violent offense, Gaskin says it didn't mean he wasn't dangerous. "Even in the first four months of 2010, it's gone up," said Andy Kahan with the mayor's Crime Victim's office. Every month, Kahan gets a printout of all the violent parolees released to Harris County. The statistics, he says, are alarming. In just the last three years, the number of aggravated robbers let out of prison has practically doubled to 56. "Your aggravated robbers, they are the ones that usually cause more havoc in a community than any other type of offender," Kahan said. What's more is that many are career criminals who have been convicted on multiple counts - some with as many as 12 - and now living amongst us in our communities. This disturbing trend started back in 2007 when, on average, 67 violent parolees returned to Harris County every month. In the first four months of this year, we're averaging about 96 a month. That's a 45 percent increase. "Well it does raise serious concern," Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos said. It's a concern for Harris County's District Attorney because roughly 30 percent of all parolees will offend again within three years. She believes prison officials should conduct a risk analysis on everyone seeking an early release as a matter of public safety. "You can't keep somebody in prison and then dump them out on the street with $50 and a bus ticket," Lykos said. "There's got to be some sort of center where they can be reintegrated into civil society." According to TDCJ's parole division, the most dangerous parolees remain under super-intensive supervision. Gaskin says her sister's murder is proof-positive that the system is broken. "What are you throwing them in prison for? Time? Then give it to 'em," she said. Gaskin says she just received a letter in the mail to let her know that Stone's parole has been revoked. The letter came almost three months to day after her sister's murder.