There is a dangerous game afoot in California. With the apparent approval of our elected leaders the California Department of Mental Health (DMH) is engaged in practices that threaten public safety and violate the law as they dump thousands of Sexually Violent Predators back onto our streets.
This malfeasance is perpetrated through the use of two questionable procedures: an underhanded tactic rejected by California voters in 2006; and a new low-bid contract that promotes the release of known predators like John Gardner, the registered sex offender who is accused of murdering Chelsea King.
The California DMH is in charge of the Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) and Mentally Disordered Offender (MDO) programs. Both programs exist to maintain violent sexual offenders if they are still considered a threat after their prison term expires or their parole date approaches. Currently, both programs undermine the intent of SVP and MDO provisions designed to protect public safety.
In 2006, Californian’s voted to pass Jessica’s Law (Proposition 83). Among other things Jessica’s Law mandates that, prior to release from prison, violent sex offenders who meet certain offense criteria be evaluated in person by two expert psychiatrists or psychologists. If the experts agree that the prisoner is a violent sexual predator with a high risk of reoffending the prisoner must be referred to the District Attorney for civil commitment proceedings. Since 2007, California’s DMH is simply providing a cursory ‘paper screening’ or record review of potential predators by one mental health professional in lieu of an expert panel in-person evaluation. This violation of California law has thus far dumped more than 17,000 potential sexual predators back into society, including Gilton Pitri, who is accused of raping and murdering 15-year-old Alyssa Gomez within four days of being “paper screened” out of prison.
John Gardner was not subject to Jessica’s Law for evaluation as a potential SVP as he had one victim. Instead, Gardener was referred for psychological evaluation under the MDO Law, as he had a documented history of mental symptoms and a violent crime. However, two DMH psychologists, beneficiaries of a new contract bidding process instituted by the DMH, recommended Gardner for parole. In past years SVP and MDO cases were assigned to a core group of competent and experienced evaluators with national reputations as experts in sexual recidivism, but the new contract assigns cases to the lowest bidder. The evaluators are required to bid a flat fee for both evaluation and testimony, providing a strong incentive to not refer the prisoner for civil commitment. The bidding process favors the least experienced evaluators and strongly incentivizes no referral for commitment proceedings.
If you are as outraged as I am that California’s Department of Mental Health is ignoring the law at the expense of public safety contact your elected leaders. Demand that Attorney General Jerry Brown, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and your State Legislators investigate the illegal practices being perpetrated by the Department of Mental Health. Californians are adamant that public safety is a high priority and we cannot allow our government to ignore our wishes or the letter of the law.
California Department of Mental Health website http://www.dmh.ca.gov/
Link to Alyssa Gomez article http://www.laweekly.com/2008-06-19/news/death-of-a-hollywood-beauty/
California State Legislature
Attorney General Jerry Brown
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Phone: (800) 952-5225
Fax: (916) 323-5341
Email using online forms
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )
Email using online forms
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