SVP Respite, Part Two
Last updated 9/21/2021 at 12:52pm
SVP’s have been released conditionally without undertaking any or completing therapies at state mental institutions.
Therapy under the Department of State Hospitals for SVPs is purely voluntary and two-thirds of the offenders never avail themselves of the rehabilitation programs. Furthermore, this critical information on whether an SVP undertook therapy, type of therapy, or to what degree and the measurements used to determine successful completion, is also withheld from the public.
There are over 900 SVPs confined in DSH facilities. Liberty/CONREP has 15 outlets for conditional release, counting Wakefield. There are 21 SVPs on the waiting list who are petitioning the court for Conditional Release. The District Attorney’s web site reports that around 10 percent of the SVPS are homeless, living on the streets, and four percent are out of reach of law enforcement. Coalinga, the mental hospital that houses Wakefield, has a court-appointed waiting list of SVPs; some, who have been in jail for years awaiting admittance, raising both legal and budgetary issues for the state’s criminal institutions.
Wakefield has been held in a criminal facility for 30 years, at least 15 years in Coalinga State Hospital, even though the law allows for him to petition for a conditional release or unconditional release after just one year. The question is: What is missing?
Did Wakefield previously apply and be rejected? How many times has he applied, and why was he denied, or why so many years between Wakefield applying for release? What has Wakefield been doing all these years, hiding in a broom closet, glued to a tv in the recreational area, eating chips and sleeping, if not involved in therapy programs?
According to state law, after one year of living in the court appointed mental facility, Wakefield may petition to choose his own residence, and go to unconditional release. Unconditional release is a version of a parole status, which may only require parole check ins, constant registration as an SVP on a regular basis, and removes him from the CONREP monitoring and surveillance programs. On an unconditional release, he longer receives taxpayer housing or funding for other support services. However, he is eligible for the same government funded programs as the general public like Medi-Cal health care, housing and food assistance.
SVPs in state mental health hospitals are growing older with many requiring expensive medical treatments that Coalinga doesn’t provide. Services for patients, requiring assisted living and nursing care, are contracted out, but added to the DSH budget and costs. This creates a backlog and an urgency in releasing the older population of the criminally insane, in addition to an already overblown budget for the institution and CONREP’S conditional release-line item costs.
On October 6, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law California State Senate Bill 384 (SB 384), which will implement a three-tiered sex offender registration system in California. This law differentiates sex offenses by the severity of the crime. Beginning on January 1, 2021, the California Department of Justice began to determine the tier status of registrants.
In July of 2021, Tier 1 and Tier 2 registrants who meet their mandatory minimum requirements will be able to petition the superior court in their county of residence to remove their names from the sex offender registry. By 2021, 90% of California’s sex offenders will no longer have to register as sex offenders for life.