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Soledad Officials Plan to Fight Sex Predator's Move to Nearby Prison

August 08, 2003|From Associated Press

Soledad residents say they are insulted by the state's plan to move sex predator Brian DeVries to a trailer on the grounds of a nearby prison.

"This isn't the appropriate location for him," said Noelia Chapa, city manager of the Monterey County town of 13,000 along U.S. 101. "He needs to go back to Santa Clara County. We don't want to be the dumping ground here."

State officials, under pressure from a Superior Court judge who granted DeVries' release in February, chose the spot after months of debate over where to house the first graduate of the state's post-prison sex offender treatment program.

Chapa said the city will petition the same judge today to stay his order releasing DeVries by Sunday. If that fails, the city attorney will explore other options, Chapa said.

In a seemingly last-minute move, the state Department of Mental Health announced Wednesday that DeVries would be moved -- at least temporarily -- to a trailer at the edge of the Correctional Training Facility, a medium-security prison less than five miles from Soledad.

"We're a small community, and we're just getting over the stigma of being a prison community," Soledad resident Bobbie Reynolds said at Wednesday night's City Council meeting, where members voted unanimously to try to block DeVries' relocation. "It will have such a negative impact, it will be unbelievable."

DeVries' lawyer, public defender Brian Matthews, said he understands the community's fears. "The thing they should know is that Brian has done the state-of-the-art treatment program, all the doctors have approved his release, and he'll be more heavily supervised than any person has been in the state of California," he said. "He's much less dangerous than your average serious sex offender who gets out and doesn't get treatment or supervision."

The move must take place before Sunday to be in compliance with Judge Robert Baines' order, but as of Wednesday the trailer had not yet been purchased, said Nora Romero, a spokeswoman for the Department of Mental Health. It also was unclear whether the global positioning satellite device DeVries needs to wear to monitor his movements could be programmed in time.

All the treatment providers for his mandatory therapy, drug testing and physical exams are in San Jose, which means -- at least until he gets a driver's license and a vehicle -- DeVries will be commuting. "There's no room for error," Chapa said.

DeVries, 44, molested at least nine young boys in New Hampshire, Florida and San Jose before serving his last term in prison. To help demonstrate his intent to reform, DeVries was castrated in August 2001. DeVries said the surgery took away his ability to get sexually aroused.

He was sent to Atascadero State Hospital in 1997, after finishing his last prison sentence. He has been locked up -- in the hospital or in prison -- since September 1993.

The state expects to spend at least $180,000 a year on his housing and treatment. DeVries expects to cover the rest of his expenses by selling his paintings or handmade jewelry. He also is working on a novel.

"It's a hard thing to know that you're a hated person and to know that the things you do are hateful and hated by others," DeVries told Associated Press last month. "There's no justifying my life. There's no 'poor me' in it. I'm not a sympathetic character."

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