Many have come out against the parole and release of child sexual predators Douglas Badger and Merle Wakefield into the residential neighborhood of Mt. Helix. Due to their records, and fear that they may commit the crimes again while on parole, lawmakers, led by Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee), have instead proposed that they finish their parole in trailers on the grounds of state prisons as an extra cautionary step.
Criminals in past decades had previously received parole-in-trailer orders by former Governors in lieu of community parole placement. In 1987, a convicted torturer and rapist, Lawrence Singleton, had been directly denied traditional parole in the Bay Area by then-Governor George Deukmejian and was instead sent to live out his parole in a trailer on the grounds of San Quentin State Prison. Seven years later, in 1994, the same alternate parole was given again. Then-Governor Pete Wilson stopped the parole of serial rapist Melvin Carter in the Bay area and instead ordered him to finish out his parole sentence in a trailer at Devil’s Garden Fire Conservation Camp.
Following their lead, lawmakers are now asking that Governor Gavin Newsom do the same for the two criminals.
“Neither Douglas Badger or Merle Wakefield are suitable to be released from secure state facilities, let alone dumping them in a residential neighborhood in Mt. Helix,” stated Senator Jones on Friday. “Both are dangerous sexually violent predators who have repeatedly targeted and attacked children. Rather than renting a spacious home to serve as a boarding house for these people, Governor Newsom ought to follow the lead of former governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian. Both of these Governors got creative and ordered that dangerous parolees be housed in trailers at state correctional facilities.”
Those opposing Mt. Helix release have also sent in letters, wrote bills to stop early parole for sexual violent criminals
In addition to supporting the trailer effort, Senator Jones has also taken several steps this year to prevent sexually violent criminals from getting an early release from prison. This has included sending several letters to the Director of the Department of State Hospitals to protest their placement in Mt. Helix and authoring Senate Bill 445, which would remove the eligibility of early parole for elderly convicted rapists and sex offenders.
“A lot of people don’t want convicted sex offenders who are out on parole in their neighborhoods,” explained Juan Higuera, a former prisoner in Los Angeles who assists recently released prisoners in finding jobs and housing, to the Globe. “Except for specified cases, sex offenders in California can live near schools. The [California Supreme Court] actually overturned the law that stopped that from happening. So when I get someone who is on the sex offender registry needing help in finding an apartment or place to stay, there is nothing legally stopping them.
“In this case, these guys are out on parole, which has different rules, so they are being placed by the state there.”
“They can be moved specially by the Governor, but in my nearly 20 years of doing this, I can’t recall that happening. It’s been a while.
“And look, a lot of these people just want to resume their lives, but there have also been cases of former prisoners doing it again. And that’s awful. So you can get why when any parole or release like this happens, a lot of people become up in arms and do everything they can to keep them out.
“But these cases actually have politicians being against moving them to somewhere in their district. When that happens, you usually see more significant action taking place. It’s interesting.”
Douglas Badger’s placement is due to be held in San Diego County Superior Court on April 20th, followed by Merle Wakefield on May 10th. SB 445 will be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee hearing on April 27th.
Sen. Jones has yet to receive a response back from his letters to the Newsom Administration so he is encouraging concerned residents to email or call the San Diego County Superior Court that is holding a hearing on Douglas Badger’s placement on Tuesday, April 20 and the placement of Merle Wakefield on Monday, May 10, he said in a statement Friday.