Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Sexually Violent Predators From Suprise Placement in Neighborhoods

Written by William Hale

Two San Diego state senators have introduced a bipartisan bill concerned with the placement of sexually violent predators (SVPs) in resedential neighborhoods. The Sexually Violent Predator Accountability, Fairness, and Enforcement Act, or the SAFE Act was crafted by Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee), Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), and Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove).

There were 13 SVP’s living in San Diego County in 2019, and eight of them were living in East County. Senate Bill 841 was produced partially in response to the backlash by East and North County residents, who were outraged by the proposed moving of Douglas Badger and Merle Wakefield — two of the 13 San Diego SVPs — into their suburban neighborhoods. “The recent cases of Douglas Badger and Merle Wakefield fit an ongoing pattern of deceit and deception by the Department of State Hospitals” said Senator Jones. Jones continued, “Families throughout Mt. Helix, Ranchita, Borrego Springs and Rancho Bernardo were jolted by the state’s attempt to put an SVP in their neighborhoods. Thankfully in these cases, judges have intervened and prevented the forced and dangerous placements of SVPs into inappropriate neighborhoods.”

A few notable items from SB 841:

  • Place a hard limit on the placement of SVPs within a county to no more 40% in any one supervisorial district
  • Mandate that the director of the Department of State Hospitals publicly report annually how many SVPs are in each county, and in which supervisorial district
  • Require the DSH to take ownership in the process by approving any placements before the vendor can sign any leases for placement locations

With the implementation of SB 841, Sen. Jones intends to force more transparency from the State. “For too long the state has been sneaking around trying to release or parole dangerous sexually violent predators and rapists in residential neighborhoods,” said Jones.

If SB 841 proceeds to be signed by Gov. Newsome, the Bill will be effective immediately. Parents from all across California are relying on the passing of SB 841 in order to prevent any of the 700 SVPs currently under state supervision from being released into their neighborhoods. “We live 500 feet away from this house that they’re supposedly going to house these violent predators at, so we’re outraged,” said Chris Jones of Mount Helix. 

Photo Cred: Rich Pedroncelli / AP