March 31, 2009

TX- State to appeal judicial decison calling for more due process for child killer Raul Meza

3-31-2009 Texas:

The Texas attorney general will appeal a recent decision by a federal judge calling for an "appropriate hearing" in the implementation of parole conditions for notorious child killer Raul Meza. The decision could lead to a spate of suits from other parolees.

Last week federal judge Lee Yeakel in Austin ordered a "hearing meeting the requirements of due process" for Meza who was released from prison on mandatory supervision seven years ago. Despite his release, he has remained effectively incarcerated ever since, because of stringent parole restrictions he had little chance to rebut, Yeakel ruled.

Meza, who admitted sexually assaulting his victim, but was not prosecuted for a sex crime, was nonetheless ordered by the Parole Board to comply with sex offender restrictions known as Condition X. Yeakel questioned the state's sincerity in its efforts to help Meza transition back into the free world. "Regardless of the state's protestations to the contrary, Meza has remained incarcerated since his mandatory supervision began in 2002," Yeakel wrote. "No reasonable observer may conclude otherwise."

Meza was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the 1982 murder of 9-year-old Kendra Page. The parole board had no choice but to release him under mandatory supervision in 2002, but ordered tight restrictions, such as that he be accompanied by an officer at all times outside the Travis County Correctional Complex; that he only spend 8 hours a week outside the Complex; and that he only visit a job program on certain days. Those restrictions prevented Meza from reintegrating into the community, the judge wrote.

The ruling is "a step in the right direction," said parole attorney Bill Habern who has handled several similar cases. "We previously did not know what due process applied in this state, or in this circuit, on these issues. Now we've had the due process defined by the court."

A spokesman for the attorney general's office declined comment except to say the office would appeal. ..News Source.. by Diane Jennings

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