Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 1048
By: Shapiro


The 76th Legislature passed legislation regarding the civil commitment of
sexually violent predators (predators), which provides for the outpatient
civil commitment of predators.  In the past two years, many small changes
needed to streamline the process were identified.  Senate Bill 1048
incorporates the recommended changes into provisions regarding civil
commitment of sexually violent predators.   


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the Council on Sex Offender Treatment
in SECTION 11 (Section 841.141, Health and Safety Code) of this bill.   


Senate Bill 1048 amends the Health and Safety Code to rename the
Interagency Council on Sex Offender Treatment as the Council on Sex
Offender Treatment (council).  The bill requires the Office of State
Counsel for Offenders (state counsel) to represent an indigent person
rather than a person subject to a civil commitment proceeding, except that
the court is required to appoint other counsel if for any reason the state
counsel is unable to represent the indigent person (Sec. 841.005).  The
bill requires the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) or the Texas
Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR) to give notice of
the release of a potential sexual predator to a multidisciplinary team
(team) not later than the first day of the 14th rather than the 16th month
before the person's anticipated release or discharge date (Sec. 841.021).
The bill modifies the composition of the team to include one person rather
than two persons from MHMR and two persons rather than one from the
council, and requires the team not later than the 60th rather than 30th day
after the date the team receives notice of the release or discharge of a
sexually violent predator (predator) to evaluate and make recommendations
regarding the possibility of the person committing a sexually violent
offense after release or discharge (Sec. 841.022).  The bill requires TDCJ
or MHMR as appropriate to determine not later than the 60th rather than the
30th day after the team submits a recommendation whether the person suffers
from a behavioral abnormality that makes the person likely to engage in
sexual predation and give notice of the determination to the attorney
representing the state (attorney) (Sec. 841.023).  The attorney must file a
petition with a Montgomery County district court alleging that the person
is a sexually violent predator not later than the 90th rather than the 60th
day after the date the person is referred to the attorney (Sec. 841.041).   

A judge is required to conduct a trial not later than the 180th rather than
the 60th day after the date a petition is filed to determine whether the
person is a sexually violent predator.  The bill requires a person who is
on trial to determine the person's status as a predator to submit to all
expert examinations that are required or permitted of the state to prepare
for the trial and sets forth the consequences of a person's failure to do
so (Sec. 846.061).  The bill requires outpatient treatment and supervision
for a person found by trial to be a predator to begin on the entry of an
order of civil commitment by the judge rather than on the person's release
from a secure correctional facility or discharge from a state hospital
(Sec. 841.081). A person remanded to civil commitment is required to notify
a case manager immediately but in any event within 24 rather than 48 hours
of any change in the person's status that affects proper treatment and
supervision (Sec. 841.082).   

The bill requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to contract with
the General Services Commission (GSC) to acquire equipment to provide
tracking services for offenders if the equipment necessary is available
through a contract entered into with GSC.  The council is required to enter
into an interagency agreement with TDCJ rather than contract for any
necessary supervised housing and the council is required to reimburse TDCJ
for housing costs (Sec. 841.083).  The bill requires the council by rule to
administer treatment and supervision of a predator and provides that the
rules adopted must be related to treatment and supervision of an offender
(Sec. 841.141).  The bill provides that to the extent of any conflict
between the provisions regarding civil commitment of sexually violent
predators (chapter) and the rules of procedure and appeal for civil cases,
the chapter controls.  The bill requires the State of Texas to pay the
reasonable costs of state or appointed counsel or experts for any other
civil commitment proceeding conducted under provisions regarding predators
and the reasonable cost of the outpatient treatment and supervision of a
predator (Sec. 841.146).   

The bill provides that a person who suffers from a behavioral abnormality
as determined by TDCJ or MHMR is not because of that abnormality a person
of unsound mind with regard to a person's rights under the Texas
Constitution (Sec. 841.1461).  Personal information that identifies the
victim of a predator is privileged from discovery by the predator (Sec.
841.1462).  The periods within which notice must be given under the chapter
are binding on all appropriate persons, but a failure to give notice within
the relevant period is not a jurisdictional error (Sec. 841.1463).  The
bill specifies the convictions, judgments, and verdicts that do not affect
an order of civil commitment and provides that the statutory duties imposed
by the chapter are suspended for the duration of any confinement of a
person who receives a conviction for a misdemeanor (Sec. 841.150).  The
bill provides that an employee or officer of the Texas Department of Health
is immune from liability for good faith conduct under the chapter (Sec.


September 1, 2001.