Sex Offender Commitment Program Frequently Asked Questions

When patients committed under the SVP statute are granted conditional release by the court, they will enter community treatment and supervision under CONREP. All CONREP SVP participants receive an intensive regimen of treatment, monitoring, and supervision that includes individual contact by supervision staff, specialized sex offense treatment, routine random drug and alcohol screening, surveillance, polygraph examinations, and active Global Positioning System tracking.

DSH cannot provide specific information on whether an individual is or isn’t a patient in a state hospital program. Doing so would violate both federal and state privacy laws.

In order to seek release, an SVP patient can petition the court (under Welfare and Institutions Code 6608) with or without the recommendation of DSH. Additionally, DSH submits an annual report to the court that includes a consideration of whether the committed person currently meets the definition of a sexually violent predator. (See W&I Code 6605.) DSH has no authority to release an SVP patient; only the courts have the authority to do so.

Any SVP CONREP participant must have their residential placement ordered by the court. Any residential change must also be approved by the court.

In general, treatment, housing, and supervision costs for SVP CONREP participants conditionally released by court order into the community are funded by the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) and offset by any benefit that may be available to the SVP CONREP participant. DSH is primarily funded by the General Fund.

Housing searches are conducted through DSH’s contractor alongside collaboration with a Housing Committee comprised of designees from law enforcement, county counsel, district attorney and the counsel of the CONREP ordered person. At the direction of the court, the contractor searches for properties and makes inquiries as detailed below.

The search for appropriate housing begins when the court grants the SVP patient’s Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 6608 petition for conditional release, which is a finding by the court that the person can be safely and effectively treated in the community. The court then determines the county of domicile, which is the county where housing searches can be conducted unless the court orders otherwise. Due to statutory placement limitations, housing is located and considered on a case-by-case basis, with community safety being the top priority. Under new law enacted on January 1, 2023, a housing committee is formed and includes a designated representative from county counsel, local law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, and the person’s attorney. The committee meets regularly with DSH and its contractor to provide assistance and consultation in the housing search process. If a designated entity does not participate in the housing committee meetings, the court is informed and may issue sanctions. The search is still conducted, and findings are communicated to the court.

The contractor searches for and screens housing sites pursuant to the court’s orders and the person’s current needs and risk factors, as identified by the state hospital and the contractor. There are many resources used to find potential properties for rent including suggestions by the members of the housing committee, newspapers, online listings and advertisements, local real estate offices and even driving through neighborhoods in search of "For Rent" signs. GPS data is used to identify areas that meet statutory distance requirements.

When a potential residence is located that meets preliminary requirements, the contractor contacts the property owner/management company to gauge their interest in renting the property to someone who is an SVP CONREP participant. If interest is indicated, the property in question is visited in person by staff. The contractor then examines the rental property and surrounding area and verifies the property’s distance to any schools, bus stops, parks, day cares, etc. They spend some time in the neighborhood to observe and gather information about the number of children in the neighborhood, their ages, and other factors that may be of interest to the court. Information is gathered by various means including but not limited to discussions with the landlord, internet searches, contacting school sites and contacting the California Department of Social Services Child Care Licensing. Each property searched by the DSH contractor is added to a housing report maintained by the contractor. A summary of the number of properties searched is typically provided to the court in a status housing report prior to the status hearing.

After meeting with the housing committee on potential residential properties and after the contractor determines that a viable property continues to comply with statutory requirements, the contractor submits the potential residence and site assessment to the court for consideration. Frequently, a property owner requires a deposit to hold the potential residential property while the court process is occurring. Court authorization is sought to hold a residence for potential placement of the CONREP-ready SVP patient while the process continues. Depending on the circumstances, the deposit may be refundable if the owner later withdraws from a rental agreement.

If a property is approved for consideration by the court, the law provides for, at minimum, a 30-day timeline for public notification. DSH provides specified county entities case specific information including name, potential placement address, date of commitment, county of commitment, hearing date, time and location and other court-ordered specifics. This public notification period is the timeframe by which county officials may notify community members of the potential placement. After the public notice period, the court reviews any feedback provided and holds a placement hearing to determine whether to order the person to the specified residential location. The housing search process does not stop until the court orders a residential placement.

Neither DSH nor its contractor has the authority to place a patient at a property. An SVP patient is not placed in the potential residential property unless and until the court orders the patient to be placed at the residence to participate in the CONREP program.

A patient is under surveillance 24-hours a day and seven days a week when initially released. Surveillance reduces over time depending upon behavior. The level of surveillance is continuously evaluated based on the patient's behavior and improvements. The amount of time surveillance remains in place varies from patient to patient. The use of surveillance does not change other requirements on the patient. In other words, the patient will remain under GPS monitoring; the home or living unit is subject to unannounced searches; and the individual must still report to in-person meetings, submit to polygraph exams, drug tests and other examinations. The close supervision is there to guard against the individual committing new crimes. Any failure to follow the rules regarding treatment, drug screening, surveillance and examinations may result in a return to a state hospital.

DSH contracts with Liberty Healthcare to supervise, treat and monitor all SVP CONREP participants. The program includes individual contact, substance abuse testing, polygraph, and GPS monitoring. In addition to supervising released individuals, Liberty Healthcare tracks court cases throughout California for other SVP CONREP participants seeking release and searching for housing for those who have been ordered released by a court, but awaits housing.