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Todd Riebe, Amador County District Attorney. (Photo: amadorgov.org)

Placer Court Vacates Sexually Violent Predator’s Amador Placement Hearing

The good guys won this one

By Katy Grimes, April 9, 2023 9:38 am

Last week the Globe reported on a sexually violent predator who was being released for the second time from prison – the first time he was released he repeated sexual offenses and landed back in prison. He was supposed to be released back to Placer County, his county of residence. But it appeared that Placer County was trying to slip him into Amador County.

Amador County District Attorney Todd Riebe spoke to the Globe spoke about Mr. Stephenson being placed in Amador County, and we asked how and why?

DA Riebe said he and Amador County Sheriff Gary Redman were not given any information on what the extraordinary circumstances were for relocating Mr. Stephenson to Amador, nor were they provided any information on what efforts to find a suitable location were.

“And we’ve received no documentation from the Placer County Court,” he said.

Well, the good guys won on this issue. Amador County will not be home to William Stevenson.

Here is the DA’s announcement:

Amador County District Attorney Todd Riebe announced that Placer Superior Court Judge Garen J. Horst issued a ruling today vacating his December 5, 2022 finding of “extraordinary circumstances” selecting Amador County as a proposed placement for sexually violent predator (SVP) William Stephenson and requiring that the placement process be conducted in compliance with the new law, sB 1034 (Atkins), which took effect January 1, 2023. The placement hearing set for April 7, 2023, was likewise vacated. Riebe said that the court also ordered that he have access to all of the documents he had requested regarding the Placer County housing search for SVP Stephenson, including court minute orders from all hearings, motions by parties, declarations, briefing and information regarding what community connection Stephenson has, if any, with Amador.

During the hearing, the court directed the continued search within Placer County for suitable mobile home and single family dwellings, and requested Liberty Healthcare create a transient status release plan for Stephenson as an option. Stephenson’s counsel noted that Stephenson fears for his safety in Amador and has other concerns regarding the Amador placement. However, Stephenson and other participants in the housing search wanted to retain the Amador County site should it become necessary.

At the hearing, Riebe pointed out his concerns with the former proposed Amador placement to include: its location next to an approved school bus stop which is literally located at the foot of the driveway; its location adjacent to BLM land where people of all ages hike, play, picnic and RTV; its location next to neighboring properties wherein 10 children reside; spotty cell phone and GPS service in the area, including frequent power outages; long 911 response times; limited law enforcement resources; distance from Liberty Healthcare supervising staff; and a lack of mental health resources adequate to address Stephenson’s significant needs.

“The Placer court’s rulings today places Amador back to where we were prior to the December 5th hearing. That is good news,” Riebe said. “It allows the search for suitable housing for SVP Stephenson to continue within Placer County. It finally gives us the information we have been seeking so that we can prepare should Amador ever be selected as a proposed placement location. And it gives us valuable time to mobilize and develop a plan to fight against any future placement of SVP Stephenson or any other SVP within our community.”

A former Sacramento resident, now living in Amador County told the Globe, “If this were the city of Sacramento, I’m sure Councilwoman Katie Venezuela and Mayor Darrell Steinberg would have welcomed this ‘poor rehabilitated soul with nowhere to go’  with open arms.

Recently, Senate Republican Leader Brian Jones told the Globe that the state has been sneaking around trying to release or parole dangerous sexually violent predators (SVPs) and rapists in residential neighborhoods.

The Senate Minority Leader made a formal request in February that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee authorize an audit of Liberty Healthcare’s long-running exclusive contract to manage the Sexually Violent Predator Conditional Release Program (SVP CONREP) currently overseen by the Department of State Hospitals (DSH). Sen. Jones is committed to reforming the SVP release and placement process so that public safety is top priority.

Sen. Jones said this has been going on for 20 years, largely unchecked, through the little known program.

SVP CONREP is a rogue program coming under increasing public scrutiny and criticism for its lack of accountability and transparency, its wasteful spending of tax dollars, its casual treatment of public safety concerns, as well as its unresponsiveness to local officials and state legislative offices, according to Sen. Jones, the Globe reported.

Since 2003, Liberty Healthcare Corporation has been the Conditional Release supervision program for Sexually Violent Predators in California.

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