Case Information SVP SCV-37867: William Stephenson
The Placer County District Attorney’s Office has received questions about California’s Sexually Violent Predator (“SVP”) Program. The Placer County District Attorney’s Office has opposed and will continue to oppose the transient release of William Stephenson in court on September 1st. Our office would like to share with the community more information about this case and state program.
➡️ In 1996, the state legislature enacted the Sexually Violent Predator Act (Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600, et. eq.), which was created to provide additional inpatient commitment and treatment for certain high risk sex offenders after the completion of their prison sentence: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/95-96/bill/asm/ab_0851-0900/ab_888_cfa_950531_092309_sen_comm.html
➡️ Individuals designated as an SVP have served their entire prison sentence for any criminal conviction and are then committed to the Department of State Hospitals for intensive inpatient treatment prior to their release from prison.
➡️ After undergoing treatment at the State Hospital, an SVP may petition for conditional release. An SVP may be either unconditionally released into the community or conditionally released if it is determined that they will not pose a danger to the public if supervised and treated in the community. This petition is then considered by the judge. The judge is then tasked with considering the hospitals report and recommendation, while balancing public safety with due process.
➡️ Placement of an SVP defaults to the county of “domicile” which is considered the county of residence for placement and legally determined by the court at the time of the SVP designation: https://www.dsh.ca.gov/Treatment/docs/SVP_FactSheetAndProcess.pdf
➡️ Mr. Stephenson’s county of domicile was determined to be Placer County based on a previously listed address in Placer County. The county of domicile is decided by the Superior Court.
➡️ Mr. Stephenson has been ordered released to a trailer or RV at a fixed location that has yet to be determined. Mr. Stephenson will not be able to move the trailer or RV, and the Department of State Hospitals (DSH), and their conditional release provider, Liberty Healthcare, are responsible for supervising Mr. Stephenson. The law considers this a “Transient Release” because he will not have a designated address; he will not be released directly on the streets.
➡️ By law, all conditionally released SVPs must be monitored and supervised by DSH and Liberty Healthcare, including among others, 24-hour GPS monitoring, monitoring of any approved electronics, and unannounced searches.
➡️ The program is run by the California Department of State Hospitals: https://www.dsh.ca.gov/
➡️ The Department of State Hospitals has decided to contract the placement program to a private contractor, Liberty Healthcare: https://www.libertyhealthcare.com/sex-offender-management/
➡️ Since the implementation of the program, there has been widespread concern across the state as SVPs are conditionally released into communities. This has led to state legislators asking questions about the program: https://sr40.senate.ca.gov/keep-our-community-safe-sexually-violent-predators
➡️ The state legislature has asked the California State Auditor to audit this program: https://sr40.senate.ca.gov/sites/sr40.senate.ca.gov/files/SVP%20CONREP%20Audit%20Request%20Letter%20UPDATED%20FINAL%5B2%5D.pdf
The Placer County District Attorney’s Office remains committed to ensuring the safety of our community. Our office, along with legislators and local policy makers, are currently reviewing all legislative and administrative avenues to solve problems that this program presents to the Placer County community and communities across the state. We will continue to fight for public safety and will keep the community up to date on this case and our statewide efforts.