February 1, 2008

CA: Backlog causes dismissal of SVP petition

The backlog of sex offenders awaiting evaluation due to California's revamped Sexually Violent Predator law has led to dismissal of a civil commitment petition in San Diego County.

The District Attorney's office did not file its petition against Charles Thomas Small until one day after he was supposed to be released on parole, so a judge was correct in ordering the petition dismissed, appellate justices ruled.

Small is still not free, however. He remains jailed until exhaustion of all government appeals. Even if he is released he will still be on intensive restrictions as a "high-risk sex offender," and "you can't get closer to being incarcerated than that," said his lawyer.

The 62-year-old Small molested a 9-year-old girl a decade ago.

Under California’s new Jessica’s Law, an offender with just one victim may be civilly committed if he meets the other requirements of the law; previously, two or more victims were required. The change has caused a ballooning in referrals to forensic psychologists on the state's SVP panel, and a consequent backlog of cases pending evaluation.

The full story, from the North County Times, is here. My related post on the financial costs of the new evaluation procedures is here.