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By Supervisor Sue Frost–
The rush to release prisoners from our jails and prisons was initially a response to court orders to reduce prison overcrowding, but lately it’s become a radical effort to recast criminals as victims and abandoning actual victims and their families. Now we are facing the placement of sexually violent predators (SVPs) that some bureaucrats decided are fit to rejoin society.
Other than the primary risk of creating more victims to sexual violence, there are additional concerns that counties have no input in whether or not an SVP can be placed in their communities. Recently, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors took a definitive position on the state’s policy for how SVPs are placed.
Knowing that Sacramento County has faced its own battles to keep SVPs out, I intend to join San Diego’s example and bring an item before the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to demand more say in the dangerous practice of placing violent sexual predators in our neighborhoods.
Many Sacramento County communities have had to fight to keep an SVP out of their neighborhoods. In 2019, an SVP convicted of multiple sexual acts with minors was being considered for placement in Del Paso Heights. That same SVP was nearly relocated to Wilton earlier this year. That SVP had no connection to Sacramento County, but the courts were considering placing him here anyway.
When such risky placements are proposed, community members can, and thankfully did, voice their opposition to having an SVP dropped in their neighborhood, but no formal avenue exists for the county to influence such decisions. What San Diego County proposed, and what I will be proposing, is a change in the state law that dictates how SVPs are placed that gives the counties a formal role in the process.
Currently, an SVP is a person that has been convicted of one or more violent sex crimes, has a diagnosed mental disorder, and is likely to engage in violent, criminal behavior. At the discretion of the courts and California Department of State Hospitals, SVPs can qualify for conditional release (CONREP).
CONREP allows SVPs to live in a community with supervising and treatment requirements dictated by the court. They have daily contact with a Liberty Healthcare regional coordinator and must wear a GPS bracelet at all times. After a year of CONREP, SVPs can then petition the court for unconditional release.
While the protocols of CONREP seem thorough, and I am sure Liberty Healthcare and all involved agencies want to keep communities safe, how can Citrus Heights parents feel safe knowing that an SVP is down the street? How do the courts, especially courts in other counties, know which communities are best to locate their SVPs?
The current code says that counties will provide assistance and consultation for the placement of SVPs but it does not create a formal avenue for input on their placement. There is also the perception that the courts tend to place SVPs in communities with high minority populations or in rural areas.
In all things, the county leaders can make better decisions about their communities than someone from a completely different county. Especially when that decision is where to place an SVP with no ties to the area.
For that reason, I am joining San Diego in asking our County Chief Executive Officer (CEO), to oppose the placement of any SVPs in Sacramento County until the welfare and institutions code (WIC) is amended to give local jurisdictions a formal role in release and placement of SVPs. That includes the authority to veto their placement in our county entirely.
It is unfair that any of our residents should have to fear the placement of known sexually violent, mentally ill criminals with no mechanism for their local officials to stop it. I will bring this before our board before the end of the year so that Sacramento County, and hopefully other counties to follow, can join the effort to formalize our authority in this process and we can protect our communities.
Rehabilitation and redemption are important values, but support for crime victims and protecting our communities should be our top priority.
Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost formerly served as a Citrus Heights councilwoman and currently represents District 4, which includes Citrus Heights. She can be contacted at (916) 874-5491, or SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
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