For too long, the state has been sneaking around trying to release or parole dangerous sexually violent predators (SVPs) and rapists in residential neighborhoods. Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones is committed to reforming the SVP release and placement process so that public safety is top priority.
A Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) is an individual convicted of a sexually violent offense and diagnosed with a mental disorder that causes them to be a danger to others with a high likelihood to reoffend.
When an SVP is recommended for conditional release, the Department of State Hospitals (DHS) is responsible for coordinating their release placement. DHS has often tried to duck their responsibility by giving their vendors, such as Liberty Healthcare, the freedom to place SVPs in unsuspecting communities across California.
Senate Minority Leader Jones Requests an Audit
Leader Jones requested that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee authorize an audit of Liberty Healthcare’s long-running exclusive contract to manage the Sexually Violent Predator Conditional Release Program (SVP CONREP) currently overseen by DSH. The audit will be voted on by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on June 26th at 3:30pm.
"East Coast based-Liberty Healthcare comes into unsuspecting communities up and down California and employs a disturbing placement strategy in which full details of where they are leasing homes for SVPs are kept secret from neighbors, school officials, and even local law enforcement," said Leader Jones. "On the campaign trail, I promised to hold DHS and their vendor Liberty Healthcare accountable and get to the bottom of their poor handling of SVP placements. I’m following through on those promises.”
Click here to download Leader Jones’s letter and supporting documents requesting the audit.
Click here to sign petition supporting the audit.
Senate Minority Leader Jones Announces Bipartisan Bill
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) have introduced the “Sexually Violent Predator Accountability, Fairness, and Enforcement Act” (SAFE Act), a measure aimed at preventing the state from continuing to try to secretly dump Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs) in unsuspecting communities throughout the state. Senate Bill 832 is the second SVP bill Leader Jones has authored in the last two years.
Click here to sign the petition supporting the SAFE Act.
“Families in San Diego County and across California are being jolted by the state’s secret attempt to put an SVP in their neighborhoods. State Hospital officials have often tried to duck their responsibility by giving their vendors, such as East Coast-based Liberty Health Care, too much freedom in targeting regions such as East and North County. Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to San Diego,” said Leader Jones. “A few weeks ago, I requested an audit of Liberty Healthcare to get to the bottom of their poor handling of SVP placements. Now, we’re announcing the bipartisan SAFE Act, which 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, 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 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 federally recognized “Indian country.”
“The SAFE Act would end DSH’s secretive SVP placements where they release SVPs into our communities without transparency and avoid answering. On the campaign trail, I promised to re-introduce the SAFE Act and help create an SVP release process where public safety is the top priority. Today, I’m following through on those promises.
- Senate Minority Leader Brian W. Jones (R-San Diego)
“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. 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.
- Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson)
“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. 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.
- Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (R-Yuba City)
More on the Disastrous Sexually Violent Predator Conditional Release Program
East Coast based-Liberty Healthcare's modus operandi is well known: they come into unsuspecting communities up and down California and employ a disturbing placement strategy in which full details of where they are leasing homes for sexually violent predators are kept secret from neighbors, school officials, and even local law enforcement. Later, after the leases for homes are signed using tax dollars, Liberty Healthcare then starts to slowly release details and a community is ripped apart. Many County District Attorneys have gone to court to block these dangerous placements of SVPs, and many judges have actually stepped up and ruled against these placements.
Unfortunately, a lot of taxpayer money is wasted year after year by DSH in this process while the vendor just makes more money and moves on to other communities to start the whole cycle over again. DSH is very close-mouthed with any details about the operation of their 20-year exclusive partnership with SVP contractor Liberty Healthcare. It's almost as if DSH simply wants to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
It's long past time to bring transparency and accountability to DSH and the details of their deal with Liberty Healthcare.
Media Reports on Liberty Healthcare
“The CA Department of State Hospitals (DSH) and their Conditional Release Program contractor, Liberty Healthcare have a history of improperly vetting properties regarding community safety . . . When measuring the success or failure of CONREP, consider that 70 percent of SVP’s released into communities in California were returned to custody. Why? In the words of the Liberty Healthcare Representative, Dr. Cameron Zeidler, they were returned for ‘technical reasons or sex not involving a human.’”
“Liberty holds a lucrative state contract to run California’s conditional release program for jury-designated ‘SVPs’ . . . Liberty is budgeted to get $6.75 million from the state in the current fiscal year . . . The amount DSH pays Liberty for CONREPO services has risen by $34,000 per client on average in the last two years, its newest estimate states. The department expects to SVPs will be conditionally released in the state at an average cost of $344,000 per client.”
Victorville Daily Press, 11/23/2021
“Outrage over plans to house convicted pedophile, with schizoaffective disorder and sexual sadism in million-dollar San Diego home across the road from a bus stop . . . Douglas Badger, 78, a convicted child sex offender, was recommended by the California Department of State Hospitals to be placed in a home on Frondoso Drive in the Rancho Bernardo neighbourhood which backs onto the country club.”
“Tricia Proffitt, who lives on Wild Iris Lane, told Lookout she is concerned about not just her family’s safety but also the ways in which challenges and isolation of living in Bonny Doon could negatively impact SVP Michael Cheek’s success. She’s live there for 32 years. ‘I am just shocked,’ she said. ‘I appreciate that the judge is looking at his rights, having served his time but I think it is a gross mistake to place him in Bonny Doon or any rural part of the county. He needs to be where services are easily accessible.’”
Lookout Santa Cruz, 11/15/2021
“The proposed plan of releasing Mr. (Joshua) Cooley as a transient Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) into Eureka motels is not in the best interest of the people of Eureka . . . Joshua Cooley was designated as a Sexually Violent Predator in 2010 and has a pattern of behavior that makes our residents and visitors targets of his deviant actions. Joshua Cooley’s criminal past and behavior has convinced experts that he is ‘most likely to re-offend’ . . . The proposed plan to release SVP Colley into as a transient with no stable or consistent place of residence is outrageous! . . . At this time, no one from Liberty Healthcare, the private provider of care for Mr. Cooley, has notified the Chief of Police for the City of Eureka regarding the proposed motel(s) placement or plans to monitor Colley’s actions.”
Statement from Eureka’s Mayor, City Council and Police Chief in Redheaded Blackbelt, news for the North Coast, 4/23/2019
“Liberty Healthcare, hired by the state to handle sex predator releases, agreed to find temporary housing for (sex predator) Fraisure Smith in motels until a permanent residence can be located in the (Solano) county . . . the latest bizarre episode in California’s ‘sexually violent predator’ program.”
San Francisco Chronicle, 10/14/2015
“Convicted sex offender nabbed after boy found with him in car. Police took convicted sex offender Cary Verse into custody on suspicion of violating a condition of his release into the community, authorities reported . . . As one of the conditions of his 2004 release from Atascadero State Mental Hospital, Verse is not allowed to drive with any male passenger without authorization from Liberty Behavioral Health Corp.”
“Cary Verse, a four-time convicted sex offender who has been forced to move repeatedly since his release in February, will remain in San Jose motel – for now. Liberty Healthcare, the agency that monitors Verse, had been trying to move him to a permanent home in Merced this week . . . State Senator Jeff Denham (R-Merced), who has been a vocal critic of Liberty’s plans to relocate Verse in Merced, said state mental health officials did not do their homework before signing a lease for the home.”
San Francisco Chronicle, 7/10/2004
“Mental Health officials began working with a private contractor, Liberty Healthcare Corp., to set up an outpatient program (for SVP Cary Verse) somewhere in the county seat. The state, however, did not disclose a precise address in Martinez after reaching a verbal agreement with a landlord, infuriating city officials and alarming neighbors. It is estimated to be within half-mile of Alhambra High School.”