Special Report: Managing sexually violent predators

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Next month, a judge in San Diego will consider the release of a convicted sex offender to the East County community of Jacumba Hot Springs.

71-year-old Herman Smith was convicted in 1993 of rape and other crimes involving a minor.

In the last U.S. census, the community of Jacumba Hot Springs had a population of fewer than 600 people, but County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said that hasn’t changed her opinion that sexually violent predators like Smith are too dangerous to be set free.

“These are individuals at high risk of repeating their offense again. They should be put away for good,” Jacob said.

Under the law, any offender who has served their time and has successfully completed treatment can be considered for release.

Doctor Glenn Lipson, a forensic psychologist who has evaluated inmates who are petitioning for release said the risk of reoffending is tied to how the inmate is managed once they’re back in the community.

“We try to tighten up contact with them, the measures that we feel are going to enable them to succeed because individuals do not want to go back to prison. So, very often they’re amenable to putting in the types of structures and requirements we feel are going to assist them in avoiding reoffending,” Lipson said.

In a 2009 meta-analysis, that looked at 23 separate studies, the research found that nearly 11 percent of the treated offenders committed another sexual offense.

The rate was significantly higher for those who were not treated, at more than 19 percent.

Yet, unlike the County supervisor, the psychologist doesn’t believe that all sex offenders are a bad risk.

With proper management and continuing treatment, Dr. Lipson thinks society can achieve a balance between justice and the safety of the community.

Categories: Local San Diego News