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Relating to the punishment for the criminal offense of improper sexual activity with a person in custody; increasing a criminal penalty.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 312 would make all engagement in sexual contact with an individual in custody by a correctional facility employee or peace officer a second-degree felony, regardless of whether the person in custody is a juvenile or not. This change would effectively raise engagement in sexual contact with an adult in custody from a state jail felony to a second-degree felony.
A person in a place of direct or indirect authority over a person held in confinement has no business engaging in any kind of sexual contact with such a person whatsoever. A person in confinement can not give meaningful consent to sexual contact with a person in any position of power or authority due to the potential ramifications of refusal. The current penalty for this offense is perfectly reasonable and we do not see a particular reason to elevate it to the next level of felony. On the other hand elevating the penalty for this offense does not necessarily make it disproportionate in a way that constitutes overcriminalization. Texas Action remains neutral on SB 312.