By Joyce E. Dudley, District Attorney
ln recent months there have been several references in the media to the term "Sexually Violent Predator" (SVP) and the fact that my office has sought to stop someone who has been found to be an SVP from being placed in our county as a transient.
Many community members have asked me about the designation, SVP, and how they are different from "Sex Offenders." The short answer is: SVPs are the worst of the worst sex offenders. Less than 1% of registered sex offenders living in CA communities have been found to be SVPs.
All SVPs have been convicted of a sexually violent offense, usually multiple offenses, often rape or child molestation, and all have been sentenced to prison. While in prison the Department of Corrections makes a preliminary assessment as to which of these prisoners, by virtue of a mental disorder, would be deemed unsafe for release back into the community. Mental health experts are then appointed and full background investigations and assessments are conducted. Assuming the prisoner has a serious enough conviction these experts then look for a mental disorder, often Paraphilia (which sometimes means a compulsion to commit sexual offenses) or Pedophilia (a sexual interest in children).
Should the experts find a mental disorder and further find that the disorder renders the prisoner unsafe for release to the community, they then ask the District Attorney to file a petition with the court requesting a trial to decide whether the prisoner is a "Sexually Violent Predator." lf the judge or jury decide the prisoner is an SVP, then and only then is he (there are very few women SVPS) given that designation which is reviewed by the court or jury every two years unless the SVP stipulates to another two-year incarceration.
As a result of being given that designation, the prisoner's future is changed; instead of being released from prison after he has "served his time" he is committed to Coalinga State Hospital, a secured facility in central California reserved largely for sex offenders. There treatment is available for him, although many of the patients decline treatment.