Many Louisiana parolees are unwatched in Texas
Web Posted: 04/15/2006 12:00 AM CDT
Associated Press

AUSTIN — Nearly eight months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, thousands of evacuees who were on parole and probation in Louisiana and fled to Texas still are without proper supervision.

Only a few hundred are reporting to parole and probation officers in Texas, where state officials are worried they may commit new crimes.

In letters to many of the state's police chiefs this week, the Texas Department of Public Safety provided the names and criminal histories of the evacuees and urged local authorities to use the list to "develop possible suspects for certain crime problems that have advanced since Hurricane Katrina."

Texas officials say that while they have known for months who most of the Louisiana offenders are, they have no authority to force them under supervision. Louisiana authorities have not issued warrants for noncompliance of terms of probation or parole in that state.

Louisiana officials say they have done so in as many cases as they can. Only a small number have voluntarily agreed to supervision in Texas.

"Ideally, the state of Louisiana should recognize its responsibility in supervising its offenders who came to this state after Hurricane Katrina," said Kathy Walt, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. "We're still working with Louisiana to take responsibility."

Some cities, notably Houston, have complained that evacuees caused their crime rates to spike. The city accepted 150,000 evacuees, and it has received $20 million from the U.S. Justice Department to pay police and fire expenses for its suddenly enlarged population and an increasing post-Katrina crime rate.

State officials said the list of crimes ranges from murder, robbery and other felonies to minor misdemeanors.

Officials at the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections said Thursday they have been cooperating with Texas officials for months to ensure that their parolees and probationers are properly supervised.

About three months ago, Walt said, Texas officials supplied police chiefs and sheriffs across the state with lists of Louisiana parolees and probationers so they would know who and where they were.