East County News Service
“The SAFE Act will bring transparency to the secretive ‘Hide the Predator’ game the Department of State Hospitals has played when releasing SVPs into communities” –Senator Brian Jones
January 11, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) -- State Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee), Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) have introduced the “Sexually Violent Predator Accountability, Fairness, and Enforcement Act” (SAFE Act). The measure aims to prevent the state from continuing to try to secretly dump Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs) in East and North San Diego County, as well as other unsuspecting communities throughout the state.
“The recent cases of Douglas Badger and Merle Wakefield fit an ongoing pattern of deceit and deception by the Department of State Hospitals,” said Senator Brian Jones. “Families throughout Mt. Helix, Ranchita, Borrego Springs and Rancho Bernardo were jolted by the state’s attempt to put an SVP in their neighborhoods. Thankfully in these cases, judges have intervened and prevented the forced and dangerous placements of SVPs into inappropriate neighborhoods.”
Specifically, Jones’ Senate Bill 841 would:
1) Place a hard limit on the placement of SVPs within a county to no more 40% in any one supervisorial district.
2) Mandate that the Director of the Department of State Hospitals publicly report annually how many SVPs are in each county, and in which supervisorial district.
3) Make the highest criteria of any potential placement of an SVP be that of public safety.
4) Require the Department of State Hospitals to take ownership in the process by approving any placements BEFORE the vendor can sign any leases for placement locations and
5) Require the Department of State Hospitals, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Department, and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to report to the Governor and Legislature any inventory of facilities that could house SVPs.
“For too long the state has been sneaking around trying to release or parole dangerous sexually violent predators and rapists in residential neighborhoods,” continued Jones. “State Hospital officials have often tried to duck their responsibility by giving their vendors, such as Liberty Health Care, too much freedom in targeting regions such as East and North County.”
He adds, “Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to San Diego. The SAFE Act will require transparency in the SVP placement process, force state officials to own up to their decisions, and make public safety the highest priority.”
Senator Hueso and Assemblyman Cooper are the Principal Coauthors of SB 841.
You can register your support for this legislation at this link: https://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/SDInfo/einvites/SD38/307_I_support_the_SAFE_Act.html