Bipartisan legislation by Senate Minority Leader Brian W. Jones (R-San Diego), Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson), Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), and Assemblymember Megan Dahle (R-Bieber), which aimed at preventing the state from continuing to secretly dump Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs) in unsuspecting communities, was stalled today in the Senate Public Safety Committee.
Senate Bill 832, the “Sexually Violent Predator Accountability, Fairness, and Enforcement Act” (SAFE Act), was drafted in response to the California Department of State Hospitals (DSH) and its contractor repeatedly trying to dump SVPs in East and North San Diego County, as well as other unsuspecting communities throughout the state. SB 832 is the second SVP bill Leader Jones has authored in the last two years. Over 1,000 Californians have signed a petition in support of SB 832.
“Families in San Diego County and across California are being jolted by the state’s secret attempts to place a Sexually Violent Predator in their neighborhoods,” said Leader Jones. “State Hospital officials have often tried to duck their responsibility by giving their vendors, such as East Coast-based Liberty Health Care, too much secrecy in targeting regions that range from rural to urban to tribal lands. Our bipartisan SAFE Act would require transparency in the SVP placement process, force state officials to own up to these decisions, and make public safety the highest priority.”
Specifically, Leader Jones’s Senate Bill 832 would:
- • Make the highest criteria of any potential placement of an SVP be that of public safety;
- • Require the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) to take ownership in the placement process by approving any placements BEFORE the vendor can sign any leases for placement locations;
- • Mandate the Director of DSH to publicly report annually how many SVPs are in each county, and in which supervisorial district;
- • Require DSH, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to assess all land under their control and report to the Governor AND Legislature any inventory of secure facilities that could be used to house SVPs, as previous administrations have done historically; and
- • Prevent an SVP from being placed within 5 miles of a federally recognized “Indian country.”
“The SAFE Act would end DSH’s secretive game where they release SVPs into our community without transparency and avoid answering questions,” continued Leader Jones. “It’s a shame that the Democrat-majority Senate Public Safety Committee is anything but looking out for the safety of the public. Once again, they care more for the vile predator than the residents, particularly children, seniors and parents, who are now living in fear of their new SVP neighbors.”
“Coauthoring SB 832 is a no-brainer—we should not allow repeat offenders charged with violent sexual predatory offenses to be covertly released into a community,” said Alvarado-Gil. “Many communities in our state, including those living on rural and Indian lands, may not have the adequate police enforcement to ensure the safety of their community from these violent sexual predators. I support State Hospitals acquiring a voice in the best placement for their patients. I applaud Minority Leader Jones's stance to represent communities that may not have the resources to responsibly home some of the most troubled individuals.”
“Rural California is not a dumping ground for violent sex offenders. It’s not fair to make families live in fear every time their kids walk to school or go play outside,” said Leader Gallagher. “If these predators are too dangerous to place in their home counties, they should stay in confinement, not get shuffled to an unsuspecting community they have no ties to.”
The 1-2 vote that stalled SB 832 fell along party lines with Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) voting in favor of the measure while Senators Aisha Wahab (D-Hayward) and Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) voted no. Senators Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) did not vote. SB 832 was granted “reconsideration,” so it can be brought up again for a second vote before April 28th.
SB 832 is similar to Leader Jones’s bipartisan SB 841 from last year, which was principal coauthored by former Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and former Assemblymember (and current Sacramento County Sheriff) Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), and coauthored by Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), Assemblymembers Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), and Marie Waldron (R-Valley Center).
Leader Jones has been a trailblazer in fighting SVP placements in San Diego County for years. Earlier this year, Leader Jones announced an audit request of Liberty Healthcare, the state contractor responsible for overseeing SVP placements. Leader Jones reached a bipartisan agreement on the audit request, which will be heard in the Joint Legislative Audit Committee in June. For more information on the audit request and the entire SVP issue, please click here.