Christopher Evans Hubbart is a sexually violent offender who began raping California women in the 1970s. He was released from a state hospital in 1979 when state doctors determined that he no longer posed a threat—and then went on to rape 23 more women. In 1996 he completed a prison sentence for those crimes and confidently awaited his release.
Fast forward to 2013. Hubbart, now 62, is still waiting for his freedom—and his fate is likely to be determined not by a judge, a caseworker, or a psychiatrist, but by a landlord.
Hubbart was the first person to be committed to a mental hospital under California’s Sexually Violent Predator Law, a 1996 statute that authorizes indefinite commitment for offenders deemed too dangerous for release. He has remained in state institutions ever since under a series of two-year renewals.
But defining sexual predation as a mental illness raises a new set of problems for women’s advocates and other groups concerned about public safety. If doctors were to declare that Hubbart’s treatment has been successful, how could the state justify keeping him in a mental hospital?
That is exactly what has happened, and a court battle is brewing.
Since 2006, California courts have allowed 23 sexually violent predators to enter the state’s conditional release program. Requirements include completing a treatment program developed by California Department of State Hospitals to reduce the chances of re-offending. Participants must also agree to close supervision through electronic monitoring and regular lie detector and drug tests. According to Santa Clara Deputy Public Defender Jeff Dunn, none of the program participants have committed sexual crimes since their release. (Several have been sent back to the state hospital for minor violations of their release conditions.)
Should Hubbart be allowed to enter the conditional release program? He has completed treatment and agreed to the supervision and testing conditions. Both his psychologist and the hospital’s medical director support his release, adding that his age makes him unlikely to commit additional sexual offenses.
But Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey has filed a writ denying Hubbart’s request. And the outcome is uncertain even if the courts decide in Hubbart’s favor: The problem of where he will live is yet to be solved.
Under the conditional release program, landlords must notify the public that they are providing housing for a convicted sexual offender. Hubbart’s long criminal record is sure to provoke negative responses from neighbors and the media. How many landlords are willing to face that ordeal?
As the courts argue about his future, and Californians worry about the outcome, Christopher Evan Hubbart continues to wait.
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Jean Reynolds, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of English at Polk State College, where she taught report writing and communication skills in the criminal justice program. She is the author of nine books, including Police Talk (Pearson), co-written with the late Mary Mariani. Visit her website at www.YourPoliceWrite.com for free report writing resources. Go to www.Amazon.com for a free preview of her book The Criminal Justice Report Writing Guide for Officers. Dr. Reynolds is the police report writing expert for Law Enforcement Today.