San Diego-based senator fights to change program that decides SVP placements
DOWNTOWN (KUSI) – With recent attention surrounding the rejection of two sexually violent predators being released into San Diego County communities, a microscope has been placed on the process that allows it to happen in the first place.
The state’s conditional release program, also known as CONREP, allows patients to be re-introduced into a community while still undergoing treatment. Those patients can include some of the worst sexually violent repeat offenders who have targeted children. Most of those who have been designated an SVP have been diagnosed with a mental disorder that makes them likely to re-offend. Sen. Brian Jones, who represents California’s 38th District, is working on legislation to fix a system he calls broken.
“On the conditional release, the governor could end this right now. He could say we’re not going to let these kind of individuals out of prison,” Jones said. “That we are even contemplating the release of these criminals is beyond me.”
The senator is working on a bill to be presented in January that would work to drastically change the current conditional release program.
“My bill will do a couple of things. One: It’s going to require additional steps between the time from which they are eligible for conditional release and the time a neighborhood is proposed for possible placement,” Jones said. “So, I am calling for additional steps in between there, giving local communities more ability to have their say.”
Currently the California Department of State Hospitals and Liberty Healthcare decide where SVPs live. Jones wants the governor to revert to past policies like, parole-in-trailer programs implemented under previous administrations.
“They were sent to state properties where there was security, either trailers or RVs on state prisons, where okay, they’re released but they’re still under supervision which certainly these guys need,” Jones said.
District Attorney Summer Stephan, who has been part of the conditional release program, is asking for the system to be re-evaluated as well.
“This issue is going to continue; this is a bigger issue. We need to have some changes to the way these placements are made,” Stephan said. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing laws going back and rolling back our laws put in place like Jessica’s Laws and Chelsea’s Law that protects against these releases.”
KUSI’s Hunter Sowards was live in Downtown San Diego with more details.