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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Abbott signs law updating sex offender-civil commitment program

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a bill to update the Texas sex offender civil-commitment program and clarify when offenders face return to prison.

The Houston Chronicle reports Abbott signed the measure Wednesday.

A federal judge hours earlier declared Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program unconstitutional, amid concerns about the rights of people locked up indefinitely.

The Texas program, started in 1999, also faces challenges to the continued confinement of repeat sex offenders, such as in halfway houses, after they complete prison terms.

Supporters say the new Texas law could help resolve legal and administrative issues.

Offenders will no longer would be criminally punished for minor violations, such as being late for treatment meetings, which landed some back in prison. The offenders would instead face sanctions such as increased confinement.

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