Former Staffers Condemn Cruel Treatment of Inmates at a Texan Prison for Sex Offenders
For many men serving time for committing sex offenses in Texas, their prison term never really ends—even if they complete their sentence. That’s because they’re required to enter a live-in mental health facility before returning to society.
That facility—in Littlefield, Texas—is actually a former maximum security prison in the middle of a dirt field.
“It comes as a surprise,” says Mary Sue Molnar, founder of Texas Voices for Reason and Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to reforming the state’s sex offense laws and registry. “I often get letters from prison saying, ‘Oh my god, they’re going to civil commit me. What should I do?'”
Civil commitment is the practice of keeping people locked up past their release date, on the grounds that they are so dangerous they need therapy—years and years of it—before they can safely return to society.
Of course, Molnar notes, if the state really “wanted them to have treatment and counseling, they had plenty of time to get that done. In some cases, these men served 20 to 25 years” in an ordinary prison before being civilly committed.
This might seem just. But even as we feel great anger and sorrow on behalf of sex crime victims, we can also see that civil commitment is an extra prison sentence by another name.
Originally called clients or residents when the center opened in 2015, the men have been re-labeled “inmates” since Management and Training Corporation, a private prison company, took over in 2019.
“MTC does not run it in a therapeutic manner whatsoever,” says Mandi Harner, a former security officer at the facility who was fired for having a relationship with one of the residents. “They run it like a prison. I’m not going to tell you everyone in there is an angel. But there are some men who deserve treatment they’re not getting, and also some who did things as teenagers who don’t deserve to be there their whole lives.”
For their first year or two at the treatment facility, the men are required to wear electronic ankle monitors that they have to pay for, according to Harner. MTC declined a request for comment about this and other claims made by sources in this article, as did the Texas Civil Commitment Office (TCCO), the government agency that oversees the facility.
There is only one way to get out of Littlefield: The men must work their way up through four tiers of treatment before they
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