Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Attorney General Abbott Praises Recommendation To Expand Sex Offender Enforcement StatewideAUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today applauded the Criminal Justice Advisory Council's recommendation for a $9.2 million expansion of the Attorney General’s sex offender enforcement efforts statewide. The funding, which Attorney General Abbott first requested in July 2005, would add 56 employees to the Attorney General’s existing seven-member Fugitive Unit force and would establish six new regional offices across Texas to enable the Unit to be more proactive in tracking down sex offenders.
The recommendation came as the Fugitive Unit logged its 258th arrest. Johnny Vacca, 45, was arrested in a Corpus Christi motel room after he violated his parole on an aggravated sexual assault conviction.
“Our efforts to arrest convicted sex offenders who violate their parole have been quite successful, but the fact remains that Texas lacks a single unified focus in handling sex predators,” said Attorney General Abbott said. “Fugitive sex offenders lurk in communities throughout Texas, and this statewide expansion, if approved, would put new investigators in a position to more effectively track them down. I thank the Criminal Justice Advisory Council for supporting this vision.”
The Council’s proposal calls for $5 million in the first year and $4.2 million in the second year to fund the expansion. The Council specifically commended the success of the Attorney General’s efforts to crack down on sex offenders, citing it as a model for statewide expansion.
The proposal was included in a report to Gov. Perry, which includes several recommendations for improving the Texas criminal justice system.
Vacca was sentenced in 1988 to 20 years in prison after being convicted in Nueces County for aggravated sexual assault of a child. The victim was a 15-year-old female. He was paroled on Jan. 23 and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice issued a warrant for his arrest on Feb. 2 after he cut off his monitor and moved away from the home where he was required to live as a condition of his parole.
Abbott continued: “As the nation has been reminded with tragic cases like Florida’s Jessica Lunsford and Dylan and Shasta Groene in Idaho, we must do all we can to protect our children from sexual predators. Texas children are at risk due to the lack of a cohesive enforcement strategy. Local jurisdictions lack the ability to implement a program to ensure parole absconders and unregistered sex offenders are immediately sought out and put back behind bars. This proposal will enable us to better protect young Texans.”
Attorney General Abbott has made pursuing sexual predators a top priority in his administration. The Cyber Crimes Unit, which targets online predators, has made 72 arrests since Abbott took office in December 2002. The Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children, has arrested 258 such offenders. His office also has obtained convictions against 36 men on child pornography charges.
To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to crack down on sexual predators, visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 252-8011.