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.
“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 a federally recognized “Indian country.”
“The SAFE Act would end the ‘Hide the Predator’ game DSH plays when releasing SVPs into communities. 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,” continued Leader Jones.
“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,” said Alvarado-Gil.
“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.”
Leader Jones has been a trailblazer in fighting SVP placements in San Diego County for years. Earlier this month, Leader Jones announced an audit request of Liberty Healthcare, the state contractor responsible for overseeing SVP placements. SB 832 is similar to Leader Jones’s bipartisan SB 841 from last year, which was principal coauthored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), and coauthored by Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), Assemblymember Randy Voepel (R-Santee), and Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R-Valley Center). To sign the petition supporting SB 832, please click here. For more information on the SVP issue, please click here.