California legislators have approved a $250,000 probe into state Department of Mental Health practices that will include dissecting why so few potentially dangerous sexually violent predators up for parole are kept locked away in treatment facilities, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. “New laws are good and helpful, but we have to have better enforcement of existing programs. If the programs are not run properly, there's no point,” said Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who called for the comprehensive review of how the Department of Mental Health screens sex offenders before being released.
Fletcher has been raising questions about how the state handles child sex predators, from prison to parole, in response to the murders of teenagers Chelsea King and Amber Dubois. Convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III has pleaded guilty to killing the girls and will be sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole on May 14. Gardner had completed his parole from a 2000 molestation case before the murders. Fletcher's call for an independent examination stems, in part, from a series of stories in the Union-Tribune showing that civil commitment of offenders has not increased despite a sharp increase in the number of referrals by the prison system. Fletcher said it's imperative for the state to know whether screening flaws are letting predators go free. Stephen Mayberg, director of the Department of Mental Health, said he welcomed the audit but reported that some of the statistics being used to criticize the evaluation program are misleading.