Supervisor Joel Anderson: Too Many Sex Offenders Are Being Placed In East County Homes
On a sunny spring day in El Cajon’s Wells Park, a call for equity from Supervisor Joel Anderson; equity when it comes to the placement of sexually violent predators who’ve done their time, and now must be released.
“My citizens, our neighbors, have the right to the same level of safety as anybody does in any other rich neighborhood," Anderson said at a news conference.
Anderson said 31% of sexually violent predators are released into group homes in the East County. But on the other hand, Anderson said District 3, which encompasses some of the county's wealthiest neighborhoods, is home to only 7% of released offenders.
“They have selected a home, not for one, but for two sexually violent predators in the middle of a family friendly neighborhood," said Kathleen Hedberg. Hedberg sits on the board of the Grossmont/Mt. Helix Improvement Association.
The home she referred to is on Horizon Hills Drive in the unincorporated area of El Cajon.
Signs around the neighborhood say the company that contracts with the state to manage it, Liberty Healthcare, wants to put Douglas Badger and Merle Wakefield here. Both are convicted sex offenders.
Hedberg said the state department of hospitals isn’t following the law, nor, she says, is Liberty Health Care.
“The proposed placement on Horizon Hills is a neighborhood with 89 children within 2,000 feet of the property," Hedberg said.
When KPBS called Liberty Health Care for a comment, the person that answered the phone referred us to the California State Department of Hospitals.
A spokesperson there asked us to submit questions in writing. No one had responded to our request as of the time this story was published.
Meantime, Supervisor Anderson said the County can take a big step in the right direction by reconvening the Sex Offender Management Council, which hasn’t met since 2019.
“These are medical professionals and law enforcement experts and we’re asking them for their expertise in figuring out a better way of handling this," Anderson said.
The story is far from over. Signs placed around the area ask neighbors to attend a virtual Superior Court hearing on May 10, when a judge will decide whether Merle Wakefield should be placed in the home.