Report 2010-116 Highlights - July 2011
Sex Offender Commitment Program:
Streamlining the Process for Identifying Potential Sexually Violent Predators Would Reduce Unnecessary or Duplicative Work
Our review of the state's Sex Offender Commitment Program (program) between January 2005 and September 2010 revealed the following:
- The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections) sent more than 6,000 referrals each year from 2007 through 2010 to the Department of Mental Health (Mental Health) for evaluation as potential sexually violent predators (SVPs).
- Many more offenders became potentially eligible for commitment to the program when California voters approved Jessica's Law (Proposition 83)—the law added more crimes to the list of sexually violent offenses and reduced the number of victims considered for this designation from two to one.
- Because Corrections referred all offenders who had committed sexually violent offenses to Mental Health for evaluation, this also contributed to the number of referrals increasing from 1,850 in 2006 to 8,871 in 2007, the first full year that Jessica's Law was in effect.
- We noted several instances in which Corrections referred offenders whose crimes were not predatory under the law.
- Since 2005, 45 percent of the referrals involved offenders whom Mental Health had previously screened or evaluated and had found not to meet the criteria to recommend commitment as SVPs.
- Corrections failed to refer offenders to Mental Health at least six months before their scheduled release dates as required and, thus, shortened the time available for Mental Health to perform reviews and schedule evaluations.
- Although Mental Health's evaluation process appears to have been effective, for a time it sometimes assigned one evaluator, rather than the two required.
- Mental Health used between 46 and 77 contractors each year from 2005 through 2010 to perform evaluations and some clinical screenings, however, the state law that expressly allows Mental Health to use contractors expires in 2012.
- Mental Health did not submit required reports to the Legislature about its efforts to hire staff to evaluate offenders and about the impact of Jessica's Law on the program.