Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jan. 11, 2008 Press Release, C.S.H. Civil Detainees

California Department Of Mental Health Explains Why Gang Members Who Rape Women Do Not Need Treatment

For Immediate Release, January 11, 2008

Coalinga State Hospital Detainee, John Lofton, spoke by phone with Brenda Epperly-Ellis, Chief of the Sexual Offender Commitment Program, from her office in the California Department of Mental Health in Sacramento on November 19, 2007.

Lofton had called Epperly-Ellis to discuss D.M.H. criteria for selecting candidates for involuntary civil confinement after completing their prison sentences. His question to her follows:

"Of those people who are detained here under the S.V.P.A. (Sexually Violent Predator Act) since 1996, its year of enactment, it has become clear that there are few, if any, gang members convicted of sex crimes within our commitment, despite high rates of sexual offense among gang members.

Why are gang members, who usually are violent, excluded from S.V.P.? Instead, sex offenders with gang affiliation are free to return home after serving their prison terms while we face lifetime confinement in the Department of Mental Health even though many here are not violent at all?

(Epperly-Ellis letter: )

November 26, 2007

To: John Lofton
Coalinga State Hospital
24511 West Jayne Avenue
Coalinga, CA 93210

From: Brenda Epperly-Ellis, S.O.C.P.

Subject: SVP/Gang Affiliation

Dear Mr. Lofton,

I am writing to you in regards to the questions we discussed by telephone regarding gang members in the Sexual Offender Commitment Program. I have checked with both our Legal Department and our experienced evaluators to provide a response to your concern.

There are no statutes that protect gang members from a sexually violent predator commitment. Gang affiliation is considered in the evaluation because it is a significant risk factor for sexual re-offense. The sexual offenses of gang members are one of many types of criminal offenses they commit. Gang members often commit a rape in concert and it is motivated by violence not by deviance. Generally, this is not due to a mental disorder and they stop doing those types of offenses as they get older.

I hope this letter has addressed your concerns. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me via mail at the address above.


Brenda Epperly-Ellis, Chief
Sexual Offender Commitment Program, 1600 9th Street, RM 250, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916-653-1843

Response From Detainee Mike St. Martin to Brenda Epperly-Ellis:

Statistics consistently show that our rate of reoffense goes down with age, too. But that doesn't keep you from holding us here until our 70's or 80's while gang members often get out of prison while still in their 20's or 30's. And gang members have a rate of recidivism of more than 70% while ours are less than 5%. What's more, the average age of Detainees here is nearly 60 and most committed their crimes more than twenty years ago. Thirty people have died in custody, three times as many as the courts have released after completion of the program.

So how is it that those gang affiliated sex offenders with a documented history of violence who have raped and abused women are not considered "Sexually Violent Predators"?"

It's very telling that you find “deviance” to be more of a threat to society than “violence”. The public has been lead to believe that the offender profile most to be feared is that of the socially isolated sex offender, not of the violent gangster who, amongst all other things, is a rapist.

By excluding the “violent” and focusing on “the deviant”, you simultaneously appease the public and avoid the difficult custody problems encountered by the Department of Corrections when incarcerating gang members.

Those not conforming to your preferred offender profiles find no place in your program and do not appear in the statistics which purport to demonstrate its value. Indeed, it has been suggested that you would find their introduction to be a contamination of your narrowly-focused study of offenders, although I find the suggestion that your treatment teams are capable of conducting any “scientific study” laughable on its face.

The demonstrated statistical reality is that the dangerousness of gang members who rape is far greater than that of the individual pedophile who, alarming headlines to the contrary, is rarely violent. But keeping gang members in cages is far more difficult, isn't it?

The California Legislature's Greatly Revised Dictionary of the English Language (Abridged)

Prisoners in California's Department of Corrections, upon completion of their prison sentences for sexually related crimes, are evaluated for consideration as "Sexually Violent Predators". At that point, State Evaluators make a recommendation to have the individual detained in Civil Confinement under the authority of the Department of Mental Health if they consider him to be “S.V.P.”, or to be allowed to leave the prison system onto parole and out into the community if they do not.

What is a "Sexually Violent Predator (S.V.P.)" under California law? The State's criteria for determining "Sexual Violence" is very different from the definition for the word "violent" found in any dictionary or any reasonable person's understanding of the term. As it is now defined, neither actual violence nor coercion is needed for a crime to meet the statutory definition of "sexually violent" under California law. In the case of child sex offenders, all that is needed to classify an offender as "violent" is that they have “substantial sexual contact” with a person under the age of 14, regardless of consent. Even if the "victim" had been perfectly willing to engage in sexual contact with the "perpetrator", he will be considered, for the purposes of classification and consideration for lifetime commitment, a "sexually violent predator".

What's more, "Sexual contact" can consist of mere touching, even through clothing and even if what is being touched is not genitalia (such as feet or back or shoulders). In this case, the "thoughts" of the perpetrator are what matter, since any physical contact whatsoever is a felony given "sexual intent". "Thought Crimes" are punishable under California Criminal Code 288 with the very real possibility of a life sentence!

The term "predator" itself is also intended to mislead. According to California's "dictionary" a "predator" need not employ actual violence, force or coercion. In this context, a "predator" may simply be someone who is unrelated as family to the "victim", such as a friend or "casual acquaintance". It is for this reason that those convicted of incest are less likely to find themselves being civilly committed after serving their prison sentence than those who had a friendship (a voluntary relationship) with their "victims".

The "Static 99" is a scoring system which purports to estimate risk for reoffense and is used in further determining eligibility for civil confinement. In practice, it especially penalizes men (and it's only used on men) who are unmarried and homosexual (with male "victims") and not related by family to their "victims". Such an offender will receive two additional "points" indicating reoffense risk. He will receive one more point if he has not known his "victim" for at least 24 hours before sexual contact. The maximum number of points that can be scored on the Static 99 is only 12.

Ironically, one of the definitions for "violent" which is found in Webster's dictionary is the following: "of, pertaining to, or constituting a distortion of meaning or fact." Does this sound like a Legislature we know?


Civil Detainee Spokesperson:
Mike St. Martin
CO-414-3, Unit 7
P.O . BOX 5003
Coalinga , CA 93210-5003
Telephone: 559-934-0391 / 559-934-0392

this document is also available from:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Coalinga State Hospital Refuses U.S. Mail To Detainee

**UPDATE**: Coalinga State Hospital has today (Jan. 11, 2008) released the brochures without comment to Mike St. Martin (see below)

Administration has Civil Detainee, Mike St. Martin, reports today that Hospital administration has refused to give him brochures from Friends & Family of California Civil Detainees sent by the U.S. Mail.
(download brochure)

He was told that his mail would have to be further "reviewed" by the Administration before a determination could be made if he would be allowed to receive it.

The ostensible reason for this "review" was stated by Officer Wallace to be that the words "Coalinga State Hospital" and a stylized depiction of the institution (which is part of the "Friends & Family" logo) appear in the brochure.

"This is an ongoing policy of the Hospital which claims that Detainees have no civil rights and that we only have the civil rights that they (the Hospital) gives us', said St. Martin. "This is according to Lieutenant Sharon Rogers and previous Clinical Director Gary Renzaglia."

"Hospital administration is having a really hard time coming to grips with the fact that we DO possess civil rights including the right to send and receive mail and to keep it from being read without a court warrant. The U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that we are not to be punished and that we are to be held in the least restrictive manner possible. What part of 'No, you won't abrogate our rights' don't they understand?".

Not only is this latest abridgment of Detainee civil rights in contravention of U.S. Federal Statutes but is also in defiance of California Department of Mental Health's own rules governing mail:

"Unit staff will deliver the mail to the Individual to whom it is addressed and, in accordance with the hospital's rules, open and inspect incoming mail for contraband, without reading written material, and in the presence of the Individual". California Department of Mental Health Administrative Directive: "SUPPORTIVE SERVICES ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTIVE NO. 624

The Federal Law on the subject reads as follows:

"Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both." TITLE 18, PART I, CHAPTER 83, § 1702 Obstruction of correspondence
As of this writing, Executive Director Norm Kramer could not be reached for comment.