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Auditor: Agency overseeing state’s worst sexually violent predators must improve

Lapses in contract management with treatment vendor must be fixed

Some convicted of sex crimes are simply too dangerous to be let back on the streets even after they’ve completed prison sentences.

Texas law allows courts to label these offenders as “sexually violent predators” and commit them to a treatment facility aimed at trying to repair their deep-rooted behavioral abnormalities.

No longer called inmates, these state “clients” go directly from prisons to a lockup center northwest of Lubbock where most of them stay for years, housed safely away from the public behind razor-wire fences. About 450 men reside there today.


It’s alarming, then, that a recent state audit found that the agency charged with overseeing these predators has mishandled its contract with the private vendor it hired to treat them.


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The Texas State Auditor found that the Texas Civil Commitment Office wrongly extended its contract with the Utah-based Management & Training Corp., in violation of state procurement requirements.

Of particular concern is that the 2022 extension was made the same year that the TCCO failed to submit its required annual vendor performance report to the state comptroller. When it finally did this in May, after the auditor pointed out the lapse during its investigation, the TCCO gave the vendor only a “C” rating.


In its written response to the June audit, the TCCO sharply defended its actions, saying the contract extension, from five years, with options for another four, to 20 years, was allowed under exceptions to state requirements. As part of the extension, MTC agreed to expand the treatment facility in Littlefield, saving the state $23 million in construction costs.

TCCO Deputy Director Jessica L. Marsh told us the expansion is necessary to accommodate the growing number of sexually violent predators being housed at the facility, which is at 98% capacity. About 34 clients are added each year, but only 18 have been released from commitment since 2016, she said.

Treatment takes a long time, said Marsh: “There is no magic pill or easy solution to address the years or decades of ingrained, deviant behaviors and thoughts.”


As for that “C” rating, the audit found it was mostly because of a sharp decline in client attendance at required weekly group therapy sessions: from 98% in 2021 to 70% in 2022.

But Marsh said the contract extension, though not implemented until 2022, was actually negotiated in 2020, when MTC received a “B” rating. Also MTC’s performance has improved so far in 2023, she said.

We get that oversight of sexually violent predators is a difficult balancing act of ensuring public safety, protecting client rights and adhering to state contracting requirements. But the TCCO must avoid such auditing problems in the future.

It doesn’t need the distraction from its important mandate of overseeing this frightening and extremely dangerous population.