California Communities See Spike in Violent Sex Offender Releases

An investigation by CBS13 News has found an increase in the number of sexually violent predators (SVP) being released by the California Department of State Hospitals (DSH) into California communities. According to the report, there was a 30% increase in Sexually Violent Predator Conditional Releases (SVP CONREP) between 2021 and 2022, with even more releases pending. The cause of the spike is not clear. 

A growing number of sexually violent predators are on transient release (i.e. no fixed place of residence) due to a lack of housing. Disturbingly, transient releasees have a 50% failure rate, according to court testimony from Liberty Healthcare.

William Robert Stephenson is one such example. For months, Placer and Amador counties battled over where the soon-to-be-free sex offender would be housed. Ultimately, a court ordered he be released as a transient in Placer County. 

Stephenson was let out once before and ended up re-offending. In 2014, state doctors granted him conditional release in Roseville. Three years later, he was back in a state hospital for possession of child pornography.

The county district attorney's office said it will now push for legislation "prohibiting the transient release of individuals deemed to be sexually violent." 

Assemblymember Joe Patterson (R-Rocklin) says he will seek to clarify the law next year. Democratic State Senator Marie Alvarado-Gill, who represents Placer and Amador counties, also wants to see changes.

“There should be a law," she said.

"My counties are rural communities where typically you see the dumping of sexually violent predators.”

It’s a trend that continues. Stephenson's next hearing is set for Sept. 1 in Auburn. Once he's out, the state plans to buy him an RV that he can use for shelter.