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1. What is a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP)?
A Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) is a person (almost all are men) who has been convicted of a qualifying sex crime and who has a mental disorder which makes him dangerous to the community after a court commitment proceeding under Welfare & Institutions Code 6600. Once he is found to meet SVP criteria, the patient is committed to the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) until he is deemed (1) ready for community-based treatment, or (2) no longer presents a danger to the community. Those determinations are made in a court hearing.
2. What kind of treatment is provided?
There are 5 phases to the California Sex Offender Commitment Program. The first 3 are aimed at recognizing and controlling high risk behaviors through cognitive behavioral therapy. Phase IV begins to prepare the SVP for possible community-based treatment (Phase V) and eventual community re-integration. Although all committed SVP's are offered treatment, at this time only about 20% have chosen to participate in the treatment program.
3. What is conditional release into the community?
This is the final phase of treatment while the SVP is placed in and supervised within the community.
4. Are SVPs ever released without conditions?
Yes. Committed SVP's have a right to a court hearing to determine if they continue to qualify as an SVP. The SVP may bring a motion to have a court determine that, or it may occur as a part of the regular court process under Welfare & Institutions Code 6600. A judge or a jury may rule that a particular patient no longer meets the legal requirements for SVP commitment. When that occurs, the "former" SVP is released into the community without any supervision, other than the requirement that he remains law-abiding and register as a sex offender every 90 days.
5. How many former SVP's are there in Fresno County?
There are currently eight (8) former SVP's residing in Fresno County.
6. Where are Phase V SVP's permitted to live?
If an SVP is being supervised as an outpatient in the community, he can only live in a court-approved placement.
7. Do SVP's have to register as sex offenders?
Yes. All current and former SVP's are required to register every 90 days, or whenever they move. There are also other registration requirements for particular situations which are explained to them at the time they register. For instance, if a former SVP were to move, he would need to register with the police department reporting his new address.
8. Is GPS used to keep track of SVP's?
If an SVP is a Phase V outpatient being treated in the community, he will have to wear a GPS as part of his supervision. Other former SVP's have no such monitoring.
9. Does law enforcement monitor SVP's more closely that other sex offenders?
Yes. Law enforcement watches SVP's more closely that other registered sex offenders. In Fresno County, the Police Departments and the Sheriff's Department are aware of each high risk offender in the county.
10. What happens if a released SVP patient violates his Terms and Conditions?When the community safety is threatened by the violation, the SVP can be immediately removed from the community until the court determines whether the violation is serious enough to warrant revocation of his community placement. If so, the SVP is returned to the State Hospital for continued treatment.