By Sandy . . . New Name Ministries, a faith-based organization, is headquartered in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. The past fifteen years have seen the community safe residential re-entry program for sex offenders grow from a fledgling pioneer in sex offender re-entry to a well-respected organization recognized as experts in sex offender residential re-entry.
Having served hundreds of former sexual offenders over these years, the founder and CEO Pastor Jon Corderio says that with the grace of God, not a single one of the men New Name Ministries has served has ever been accused of a new sexual offense.
All of this is now being threatened by the Texas Department of Pardons and Paroles.
On Dec. 18th due to seemingly secret and still unpublished changes in parole policy, all New Name Ministries (NNM) facilities in Tarrant and Wise County were removed from TDCJ’s Alternate Housing Resource (AHR) lists without any prior warning or being given any opportunity to address deficiencies or correct issues. AHRs are private facilities operated without taxpayer funding.
The issue has to do with the number of men allowed per bedroom and per house. The written policy is, “Adequate living space per offender,” but now a limit of two men per bedroom and a maximum of seven per home has been arbitrarily set regardless of the size of the home or of the rooms. NNM brought their homes into compliance immediately upon being told of the new rules, but they were told that they must now reapply for inclusion on the list of acceptable alternate housing.
Appeals to both the regional and the assistant regional directors have gone unanswered.
Twenty of the current residents are under parole supervision, and they have been given 30 days to move out of their homes, some as early as January 15th. They have been told to provide their new addresses immediately or else be put on the state-funded halfway house list. This means men who are well-established and employed there risk being moved as far away as El Paso. Most of these 20 men are employed although very few have vehicles or adequate resources to locate housing or live on their own.
Legal counsel has advised against contacting governmental representatives, fearing that this would be seen as an opportunity to create further-reaching legislation that would give the Texas Department of Parole more power and promote more state-run halfway houses at taxpayers’ expense. This will affect not only those on the sexual offense registry but all of those being released on parole in Texas.
Concerned citizens, family members, and friends are being asked to take action by contacting Parole Director Pamela Thielke (8610 Shoal Creek Blvd, Austin, TX 7875; Phone: (512) 406-5401; Fax: (512) 406-5858) and encouraging her to intervene and implement a more reasonable approach to correcting alternative housing resource issues. You may also contact New Name Ministries, firstname.lastname@example.org, with offers of help in the form of donations, rooms to rent in the Ft. Worth area, or the loan or donation of an RV.
Registered citizens on parole face a myriad of difficulties and obstacles to re-entry. Organizations such as New Name Ministries, with proven track records of compassion and success, are essential to this process and doubly essential as they operate without any cost to the taxpayer.
The state of Texas and the Board of Pardons and Parole should be doing all it can to facilitate the continued success of this vital re-entry program. To impede it in any way for any period of time is in no one’s best interest.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.