Michael Elbert Young: Fifth Escapee in 18 Months from GEO Group Facility

A high-risk child rapist who hopped over his halfway house's barbed wire fence Thursday night is the fifth sex offender to abscond from the privately run Southeast Texas Transitional Center in 18 months.

According to the Houston Chronicle story linked above, authorities say Michael Elbert Young, who might be "mentally unstable if not taking medication," removed his electronic tracking monitor. He was "released from prison after serving eight years for two aggravated assault convictions. Both were sex related. He also served a 20-year term for sexual assault of a child and attempted aggravated sexual assault." Oh, and he has a history of using knives.

Owned and operated by Florida-based GEO Group, the facility at 10950 Old Beaumont Highway was formerly known as the Ben A. Reid Community Correctional Facility. Apparently, since GEO can't keep track of its convicted sexual predators, it just figured changing the name would solve the problem. After all, it's much cheaper than hiring a competent staff and improving security.

In October 2010, Anthony Ray Ferrell walked out of Southeast Texas/Ben A. Reid, and was later charged with gunning down a Good Samaritan who intervened when Ferrell allegedly tried to snatch a woman's purse inside a gas station convenience store.

A week before Ferrell strolled off the grounds, Bruce McCain, convicted of two sexual assaults in 1986, fled the facility.

In December 2010, Arthur William Brown, who had served 31 years for aggravated sexual assault of two women and a 16-year-old, did the same.

A month after that, sex offender Timothy Rosales Jr. absconded.

Although some of these folks were caught, the problem is, as we wrote earlier, the place is like a freaking sieve, and GEO has a sweet contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice: There's apparently no repercussion for escapes, and once a resident absconds, it's no longer GEO's problem. All GEO personnel have to do is pick up a phone and notify real-life law enforcement officers.

Thanks, GEO. We certainly feel safer with y'all at the wheel. And thanks, TDCJ, for continuing to do business with them.

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