70 “Predator” Probations

 Posted on April 02, 2008 in Uncategorized

I'm glad the Harris County DA's race is almost over. Partisan politics and offices in the criminal justice really shouldn't mix. In this election, both sides have tried to deceive the public.

Over at the Elect Kelly Siegler Kelly Blog you can read about Pat Lykos's deceptions; here's one from Siegler's campaign.

Kelly Siegler's campaign literature says that Pat Lykos placed 70 "child sex predators" on deferred adjudication probation.

There's no indication of what they mean by a "child sex predator" (nineteen-year-olds with fifteen-year-old girlfriends?) but that's not the deception. That's just an effort to make the voters afraid.

The deception is this: in order for a judge to put a person on deferred adjudication probation, the State of Texas must approve the accused's jury waiver. If the government doesn't agree to waive a jury trial, deferred is off the table. In every one of those 70 cases, the government agreed to let Judge Lykos set the punishment, to include deferred adjudication.

So we know that in those 70 "child sex predator" cases the Harris County DA's Office didn't strenuously object to deferred adjudication.

Often the government either tacitly or explicitly agrees to an accused being placed on deferred adjudication probation. We can't know (because the Kelly Siegler campaign isn't telling us) how many of those 70 "predator" cases involved an express agreement by the DA's office. I would bet that the number is not zero.

Moreover, from the limited information the Kelly Siegler campaign gives us, it appears that the DA's Office made the right call in either agreeing to deferred adjudication or approving jury waivers in those 70 cases. One way of telling retrospectively whether deferred adjudication was the right resolution of a case is to look at whether the defendant reoffended while on probation or later. Again, the Kelly Siegler campaign isn't sharing names with us, but you can be sure that they have reviewed each "predator's" criminal history since the deferred adjudication. Since the Kelly Siegler campaign does not report that any of these 70 people reoffended while on deferred adjudication probation or even afterwards, it appears that both Pat Lykos and the DA's office, by that measure at least, didn't screw up by putting these 70 people on probation.

Why does the Kelly Siegler campaign make a point of these 70 deferred adjudication probations for "predators"? Because make people afraid works with voters as well as juries.

The Harris County DA needs to be like Elliot Ness: untouchable. The people of the county should be able to depend on the DA to tell them the truth, and not to try to deceive them. In this campaign both Pat Lykos and Kelly Siegler have let the people down.

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