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Senator Brian Jones. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

New Bill To Prevent The Covert Release Of Sexually Violent Predators Into Communities

SB 832 quickly gained bipartisan support in Senate

By Evan Symon, February 28, 2023 2:34 am

A bill to help prevent the covert releasing of Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs) into communities across the state was formally introduced into the Senate on Monday.

Senate Bill 832, authored by Senator Brian Jones (R-San Diego) would aim to make the highest criteria of any potential placement of an SVP be that of public safety. The bill, also known as the Sexually Violent Predator Accountability, Fairness, and Enforcement Act (SAFE Act), would also require the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) to take ownership in the placement process by approving any placements before the vendor can sign any leases for placement locations and would mandate that the Director of DSH is to publicly report annually how many SVPs are in each county, and in which supervisorial district.

The DSH, along with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), would also be required to assess all land under their control and report to the Governor and Legislature any inventory of facilities that could be used to house SVPs. Finally, SB 832 would prevent an SVP from being placed within 5 miles of federally recognized “Indian country.”

Senator Jones wrote the bill due to many SVPs released from jail being moved  to communities across the state without much warning. In particular, many are moved to rural areas and nearby Indian reservations where the SVP is not known, where citizens could inadvertently be placed into potentially dangerous situations as a result, and where law enforcement is not of adequate levels to help deal with the influx of SVPS. While local and County officials have taken action against SVP placement in some areas of the state, many areas that are not equipped to handle SVPS moving in are still receiving them, adding to the urgency of SB 832 following other prior SVP bills of Jones’ including SB 841, which was introduced last year.

“Families in San Diego County and across California are being jolted by the state’s secret attempt to put an SVP in their neighborhoods. State Hospital officials have often tried to duck their responsibility by giving their vendors, such as East Coast-based Liberty Health Care, too much freedom in targeting regions such as East and North County. Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to San Diego,” said Senator Jones in a statement on Monday. “A few weeks ago, I requested an audit of Liberty Healthcare to get to the bottom of their poor handling of SVP placements. Now, we’re announcing the bipartisan SAFE Act, which would require transparency in the SVP placement process, force state officials to own up to these decisions, and make public safety the highest priority.”

“The SAFE Act would end the ‘Hide the Predator’ game DSH plays when releasing SVPs into communities. On the campaign trail, I promised to re-introduce the SAFE Act and help create an SVP release process where public safety is the top priority. Today, I’m following through on those promises.”

Bipartisan support for the SAFE Act

SB 832 quickly received bipartisan support when it was first written earlier this month, with both Democratic and Republican Senators coming on as co-authors.

“Coauthoring SB 832 is a no-brainer—we should not allow repeat offenders charged with violent sexual predatory offenses to be covertly released into a community,” noted Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson). “Many communities in our state, including those living on rural and Indian lands, may not have the adequate police enforcement to ensure the safety of their community from these violent sexual predators. I support State Hospitals acquiring a voice in the best placement for their patients. I applaud Minority Leader Jones’s stance to represent communities that may not have the resources to responsibly home some of the most troubled individuals.”

James Gallagher
Assemblyman James Gallagher. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) also added, “Rural California is not a dumping ground for violent sex offenders. It’s not fair to make families live in fear every time their kids walk to school or go play outside. If these predators are too dangerous to place in their home counties, they should stay in confinement, not get shuffled to an unsuspecting community they have no ties to.”

Support also came from the local level, with many rural citizens and law enforcement officials telling the Globe that their home towns should not be ‘dumping grounds’ for SVPs simply because they’re not a more populous area.

“When you cover a big area and you don’t have too many deputies or deputy sheriffs driving driving through, it can be a hard time keeping an eye on people like that,” explained Ken Parkhurst, who has been a part of several rural police forces in Florida, Mississippi, and California, to the Globe on Monday. “Back in Florida I had to help patrol an area where a lot of people on the sex offender registry were at, simply because rural Florida was pretty much the only place they could go because cities had too many schools, parks, and other places those under 18 frequented. Many lived in trailer park communities designed specifically with them in mind in fact.

“Out here, it isn’t s bad, but you have these predators being released that need to go somewhere. And like pretty much like everywhere else, the best solution is to stick them in a rural area. There needs to be a better way and to keep lawmakers held responsible for where they all go, and this bill really helps. It’s not an issue that can be easily solved, but this does help a lot in fixing things.”

SB 832 is set to receive a committee assignment next month.

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One thought on “New Bill To Prevent The Covert Release Of Sexually Violent Predators Into Communities

  1. Sadly this common sense bill will still fail. First because it was written by a Republican which automatically means that the super-majority Democrat legislature will block it at the first chance it gets (despite some Democrats supporting it) because the Democrats can never admit that the Republicans are capable of writing useful bills, let alone vote for them. Also, this bill targets a favorite protected class of Democrats, that being violent sexual predators. They are especially keen on making sure they are released into vulnerable communities as that just adds to the chaos that they seek to spread. So yeah, there is no chance this bill is going to pass.

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