Calif. Gov. Schwarzenegger Directs Administration to take Action on SOMB Recommendations

SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday directed his Administration to take action on recommendations provided by the Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB) after reviewing the John Albert Gardner case. “Public safety is my number one priority, and I am absolutely committed to protecting our children from sexual predators,” said Governor Schwarzenegger.

“That is why I directed the Sex Offender Management Board to review the Gardner case, and today I am directing my Administration to take action to implement the immediate actions we can take. My Administration will continue to work with the legislature to improve California’s already tough measures in order to better protect the public from sex offenders.”

Earlier this year, the Governor directed the SOMB to review the John Albert Gardner case to determine where systemic changes or improvements can be made to better protect the public. Additionally, after a review of parolee file retention, the Governor immediately directed the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to retain all files on sex offender parolees going forward and to make as much information as possible available to the public.

The Governor has directed his Administration to take action on the SOMB recommendations. CDCR along with the Department of Mental Health (DMH), under the Health and Human Services Agency, are taking the following immediate actions:
· CDCR is in the process of awarding contracts for a pilot program to treat designated sex offenders on parole as part of a containment model strategy.
· CDCR is committed to and is currently implementing the containment model community management for sex offenders to include four essential components: law enforcement, victim services, offender treatment and polygraph testing.
· CDCR’s Division of Adult Parole Operations is conducting a thorough review of all violations of parole conditions for possible referral to the Board of Parole Hearings, in conjunction with the Parole Violation Decision Making Instrument, which determines any sanctions for misconduct while on parole. CDCR has been using the Parole Violation Decision Making Instrument since November 2008.
· CDCR has already implemented a policy change to retain all sex offender records indefinitely.
· CDCR will work to improve assessments by identifying a dynamic risk assessment tool and process as the next step in a more detailed evaluation of sexual offenders.
In addition to the SOMB’s review, CDCR and DMH conducted an internal agency review of sex offender management processes and will also work to implement the following changes:
· CDCR and DMH will work with the legislature to amend mentally disordered offender laws that refer incarcerated offenders for commitment. Currently by law, offenders are reviewed by two evaluators to assess if the offender should be referred for commitment. If the two assessments split, the offender is reviewed by another set of two evaluators and if their decision also splits, the offender is not committed. CDCR and DMH will work to add a fifth evaluator to assess commitment and break any tie.
· The Board of Parole of Hearings will propose both statutory and regulation changes to extend the amount of time the board can place a hold on an offender for mentally disordered offender and sexually violent predator evaluations from 45 days to 60 days.
· DMH will work with the legislature to amend mentally disordered offender statute to decrease the required mental illness treatment standard threshold in one year from 90 to 60 days. This change would allow DMH to commit a mentally disordered offender after 60 days of treatment instead of 90 days.

Governor Schwarzenegger and his Administration will continue to work with the legislature to pass stricter penalties for sex offenders, including exclusion or safe zones and the examination of classifying sex offenders in tiers, and to identify additional state resources as recommended by SOMB. The Administration will also continue to work with the Department of Justice and local law enforcement on board and agency recommended improvements. The Governor earlier announced his support for AB 1844, by Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego), also known as Chelsea’s Law, which would create harsher penalties for individuals that prey on children.

The Governor signed AB 1015 in 2006 to create the SOMB. The Board was tasked with bringing together stakeholders in the management of sex offenders to assess the current practices in managing adult sex offenders under supervision, identify best practices and make recommendations to the legislature on how to implement these changes. The 17 member Board includes representatives from the Department of Justice, Department of Mental Health, victims groups, local governments and CDCR. The Board serves as a resource for the Governor and the legislature to review and help address issues concerns and problems related to the community management of the state’s adult sex offenders, with a goal of safer communities and reduced victimization.

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