Claremont residents who swiftly organized last week to protest the parole of convicted serial rapist Christopher Hubbart are working to prevent his future release in their town.
City officials and community activists met Wednesday with Gov. Pete Wilson, who briefed them on California's parole system. His visit followed a two-day round of talks in Sacramento between state legislators and Claremont officials, headed by Mayor Diann Ring.
Meanwhile, a public seminar is planned next month, featuring speakers from the state parole division, the district attorney's office and psychiatric experts.
"We want to learn about the (parole) system, what we need to know about it, instead of knee-jerking around," said Ellen Taylor, president of the League of Women Voters, the group sponsoring the seminar.
"Last week, we were into sound bites," Ring said. "I'm into (finding out about) real change this week."
The community activity comes days after residents of the quiet college town mobilized within 24 hours of discovering that Hubbart, a 43-year-old sex offender, was to be released to his parents' home on the Claremont border.
Protesting his scheduled release March 15, residents quickly prepared signs and flyers, got speakers and staged a rally of 250 people outside City Hall. A second group of about 60 broke away the next day to picket in front of Hubbart's family home.
Police believe Hubbart committed up to 50 rapes, beginning with 23 in the 1970s in the San Gabriel Valley and Orange and San Bernardino counties. He is also believed to be responsible for a series of sexual assaults and robberies in Northern California.
Convicted four times of sexual crimes, he was originally scheduled for release in Santa Clara County after serving 2 1/2 years of a five-year sentence. Instead, he requested a return to his family home in Claremont and was released to a parole officer last week amid community uproar.
But his freedom was short-lived. A psychiatric exam given at the parole office revealed that he is still mentally disturbed and he was returned to state prison.
Craig Perry, who heads the parole unit in Claremont, said Hubbart faces a hearing within the next 30 days to decide if he should remain in prison for another year. Under state law, Hubbart's three-year parole could include up to a year in state prison each time a psychiatric exam shows no improvement in his mental condition, Perry said.
But the state will lose all oversight over Hubbart in January, 1996, when he must be released without supervision regardless of his mental condition.
"That's just the way the law works," Perry said.
And that is precisely what needs correction, Ring said. "It's like a microwave oven. The timer goes off and, bingo, you're out, with nobody there with the authority to say, 'I don't think so.' "