County Supervisors Say "NO"
Last updated 10/15/2021 at 12:01pm
On Oct. 5, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted unanimously to support the recommendation by our County Supervisor, Jim Desmond, to take actions to oppose further placements of Sexually Violent Predators in the County. The Board approved the recommendation to direct the San Diego County Chief Administrative Officer to take necessary actions to oppose further placements of Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs) in the County until California Welfare and Institutions Code 6608 has been updated to allow a local jurisdiction full participation in the release and placement process, including full veto authority.
This push by Supervisor Desmond is echoed by County Supervisor Joel Anderson, our former CA State representative. Supervisors Desmond and Anderson have been the only members of the County Board of Supervisors to press for improved public safety regarding SVP placement. As recently as March of this year, Supervisors Nathan Fletcher, Nora Vargas, and Terra Lawson-Remer voted against the recommendations of District Attorney Summer Stephan to support changes to laws that would require most proceedings for the civil commitment of SVPs to be conducted in open court, and to close SVP loopholes in the law.
County Board meetings are often raucous events, with many public speakers on both sides of every issue. Many speakers are there routinely, no matter what agenda topics are planned, to voice their frustrations at the Board and government in general.
There were over a dozen speakers to address Supervisor Desmond’s agenda item of ‘Communities Should Not Have To Live In Fear of Sexually Violent Predators’, with speakers representing People Safe Borrego, Kids Safe California, Your Voice Has Power, and others. They provided a steady stream of information regarding the need to place public safety first, specific reasoning to stop or slow the pace of SVP placements, and needed improvements at the state and county levels. Perhaps most poignant were the personal recollections of the stress and loss of Chelsea King, and personal appeals by several women who were survivors of rape or sexual abuse.
On Oct. 19, Supervisor Anderson will submit a recommendation to the BOS for an improved process to check and certify the information provided by Liberty Healthcare to the judge for proposed SVP placements. This is a crucial new step to ensure facts are provided to the judges deciding where an SVP placement can occur.
Some judges, such as Judge David Gill, do not allow subject matter experts to provide information relative to the placement of an SVP in a community. This is especially detrimental to smaller, less affluent communities that lack the resources to mount a campaign and lack the number of votes to sway elected officials. In the Ranchita SVP placement hearings, Judge Gill allowed Liberty Healthcare to view and hear every action happening behind closed doors, despite the fact that Liberty Healthcare itself is not a party to the request for placement by the SVP. Ranchita homeowners and others were kept out of the discussions. When open sessions were allowed, Judge Gill would only allow very short statements by a few Ranchita residents, but would allow unlimited time for Liberty Healthcare. He would not allow statements by subject matter experts who were in court to support Ranchita, and also to counter Liberty Healthcare’s assessments and statements. Some counties in California require open courts for SVP placement hearings.
Despite the recent wins against SVP placements in Borrego Springs, Ranchita and Rancho Bernardo, each of those were stopped through actions external to the court system. The placements of each of those SVPs, Merle Wakefield, Douglas Badger and Michael Martinez, are pending and Liberty Healthcare is looking for locations to place each of them.