Cut the monitor and run — escaping from justice is as easy as that. Or so some paroled sex offenders think.
Since state prison realignment began in October 2011, there has been a 15 percent increase in such parolees violating the terms of their release.
In San Francisco, that number rose from 72 to 84 cases. Of those, 11 sex offenders were still at large as of last week, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. They were John Duggan, Derick Stewart, Gilbert Valentino, Charles Kendrix, Oscar Genel, Stephen Gene Pollard, Edmond Worthington, Curtis Johnson, Michael Jones, Tanya Davis and Elon Collis.
The state’s realignment policy was born after an order from the U.S. Supreme Court to ease crowding in prisons. Certain inmates — nonviolent, nonsexual and nonserious offenders — were shipped off to county jails. Parolees who would normally be overseen by the state also are now under the control of county parole officials. And parole violators are sent to county jails instead of state prisons.
This has led to an increase in the number of sex offenders who are violating their parole, according to corrections department data. In the 15 months before realignment, there were 2,346 sex offenders violating their parole. In the 15 months since realignment, 2,706 have violated terms of their release.
In the Bay Area outside of San Francisco, the rise has not been as dramatic. According to data, 439 sex offenders violated parole in that 15-month time frame before realignment; afterward, the number increased to 444.
The state has not changed how it handles parolees “one iota,” according to Jeffrey Callison, a spokesman for the corrections department. “We monitor them the same way as before,” he said.
“A lot of sex offenders cut or tampered with their bracelets in 2010, and they are without question doing it now,” Callison added. “This would happen regardless of realignment.”
The counties where sex offenders are eluding justice in increasing numbers are counties where jails are too crowded to accept prisoners from the state, according to law enforcement officials. Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Fresno counties all had increases of 20 percent or more. Fresno’s tally nearly doubled.
San Francisco County Jail has historically been undercapacity, even with the extra inmates from realignment. Further, San Francisco does not allow sex offenders to be released on electronic monitoring, according to Chief Deputy Kathy Gorwood of the Sheriff’s Department, which runs the jails.
People in California who are convicted of sex offenses — which includes rape or intent to commit rape — are subject to a lifetime of restrictions upon release from prison. Under Megan’s Law, passed in 2005, people guilty of such crimes must register as sex offenders with local law enforcement. Their names and addresses are public record, and in certain circumstances they may be barred from living within a specific distance of a school.