Meza will stay on sex of­fender re­stric­tions

man who killed 8-year-old girl in 1982 is still a threat to so­ci­ety, pa­role board says

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Mike Ward

The Texas Board of Par­dons and Paroles has voted to keep con­victed child killer Raul Meza on sex of­fender re­stric­tions, even though he was not con­victed of a sex crime.

In a 3-0 de­ci­sion an­nounced Wed­nes­day, a three-mem­ber pa­role panel voted to con­tinue Meza on “Con­di­tion X,” which strictly lim­its his move­ments and es­sen­tially keeps him con­fined to a min­i­mum-se­cu­rity wing at the Travis County Cor­rec­tional Com­plex at Del Valle.

In its de­ci­sion, the pa­role panel made a de­ter­mi­na­tion that Meza con­sti­tutes a con­tin­u­ing threat to so­ci­ety “by rea­son of lack of sex­ual con­trol,” said Bet­tie Wells, the pa­role board’s gen­eral coun­sel.

No fur­ther in­for­ma­tion was avail­able on that find­ing, and the case file is not pub­lic in­for­ma­tion.

Gary Co­hen, an at­tor­ney for Meza, said the pa­role board’s de­ci­sion con­tained no fac­tual find­ings to back up its de­ci­sion — as re­quired by an ear­lier court or­der.

In­stead, the board sup­ported its de­ci­sion by cit­ing

Con­tin­ued from A tes­ti­mony and ex­hibits that did not back up the de­ci­sion that Meza poses a con­tin­u­ing threat, Co­hen said. An ap­peal is ex­pected, Co­hen said.

In May, the 5th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals ruled that Texas had im­prop­erly placed sex of­fender re­stric­tions on Meza and thou­sands of other parolees. The rul­ing was the lat­est suc­cess­ful chal­lenge to state pa­role pro­ce­dures.

More than 6,000 cases are be­ing re­viewed as a re­sult, of­fi­cials said at the time.

The ap­peals court ruled that parolees who are la­beled as sex of­fend­ers, but have not been con­victed of a sex crime, are im­prop­erly treated be­cause Texas does not al­low them to see the in­for­ma­tion used against them, does not al­low them to ap­pear at a hear­ing and does not al­low them to con­front their ac­cusers.

The court also or­dered pa­role of­fi­cials to pro­vide Meza and the other af­fected parolees with a writ­ten de­ci­sion list­ing the ev­i­dence re­lied upon and the rea­sons for at­tach­ing sex of­fender con­di­tions to manda­tory su­per­vi­sion.

The ap­peals court backed U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in all but one of the con­di­tions he im­posed on Texas last year. It over­turned his or­der that in­di­gent parolees are en­ti­tled to a court-ap­pointed lawyer for their sex of­fender hear­ing.

Meza was con­victed of killing 8-year-old Ken­dra Page on the play­ground of a South­east Austin ele­men­tary school in 1982. He was sen­tenced to 30 years in prison and later re­ceived an­other four years for hav­ing a weapon in prison.

Un­der the state’s manda­tory su­per­vi­sion law at the time, he was re­leased in 1993 when his time served and good-be­hav­ior time equaled the length of his sen­tence. He was put on pa­role, then re­turned to prison in 1994 af­ter a cur­few vi­o­la­tion.

In 2002, he was trans­ferred to a min­i­mum-se­cu­rity sec­tion of the Del Valle cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity when his time served and good-be­hav­ior credit again equaled the length of his sen­tence — and there he has stayed.

Meza’s lawyers ear­lier said that his pa­role re­stric­tions — he must be es­corted by a pa­role of­fi­cer and can­not ap­proach or cross “child-safety zones” such as schools and day cares — make it im­pos­si­ble for him to find a job. And with­out a job, Meza can­not ob­tain hous­ing, leav­ing him in­car­cer­ated af­ter his sen­tence has ended.

Last Fe­bru­ary, Meza was charged with vi­o­lat­ing terms of his pa­role by mak­ing a ter­ror­is­tic threat and at­tempt­ing to ob­tain a pis­tol. In March, the pa­role board voted to con­tinue his su­per­vi­sion un­changed.

Raul Meza Housed at Del Valle fa­cil­ity since 2002.

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