Head of embattled agency to 'start from scratch'

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Associated Press

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 6:32 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The new director of the state agency that supervises the most violent sex offenders in Texas says the agency is in such disarray that she'll need to "start from scratch."

Marsha McLane began work this week at the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management in Austin and was unable to find personnel files, a computer or any phone that connected to those of other agency employees. Dead crickets littered the floor and she found stacks of cardboard boxes in her office.

McLane said she's learned that most of the office's 26 employees worked from home, according to the Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1jATUk9 ). Regional managers summoned to the Austin office said it was the first time such a meeting had been held.

"I can't recall ever seeing anything like this. ... I'm literally having to start from scratch," said McLane, who previously served as a manager with the Texas criminal justice system.

State officials worked Tuesday to retrieve computers and other files from the home of the previous director, Allison Taylor.

Taylor resigned last week after a string of controversies, including when the agency moved high-risk offenders into residential neighborhoods in Austin and Houston without notifying nearby residents. State lawmakers also were outraged to learn the agency had quietly planned to build a center to house at least 50 offenders in rural Liberty County in East Texas.

Taylor has not responded to requests for comment.

The agency is responsible for providing residential programs for more than 300 sex offenders deemed too dangerous to be released back into society. Instead, the men are kept in state custody via civil commitments after serving their criminal sentences.

Although offenders with "a behavioral abnormality" are supposed to be treated, the Chronicle reports no detainee has successfully completed treatment and been released.

McLane, who was appointed Saturday by a three-member governing board, said Tuesday she's working quickly to bring organization to the agency. She said she plans to meet with staff members and treatment providers in the coming days.

"I don't understand how you can run an agency without ever coming in," she said. "We're going to put in place a system here that works."

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

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