State parole officials claim they foresaw this situation of their own making. They say, yes, they knew there was a school in
close proximity when they were evaluating the site. Yes, they had
already discussed that this wouldn't be a good place for sex offenders.
Yet, the awarding of a contract is based on a scoring rubric, and
proximity to school is not one of the factors tabulated. The location portion of the contract evaluation is either a pass or fail; either you have the
zoning and conditional use permits to host the program or you don't. Walden
House did, and won the contract on points over one or two other
competitors that put in proposals, one of which was the Service League.
"When we went out there [to tour the Walden House facility] we saw
exactly where it was at," Rodney Gray, a parole administrator for CDCR,
told SF Weekly. "We knew the school was there. In San Francisco,
there's logistically, many, problems, but nothing in the penal code
prohibits the program from having [a school nearby] right
now."So for now, some of the parolees who used to hang
out at the Service League all day are just roaming the streets instead.
To reiterate: CDCR officials claim they were helplessly handcuffed by a formula they knew full well would result in some parolees being unable to enter the parolee help center. And their decision to exclude the sex offenders in the name of safety, has given some of those parolees few alternatives to just roaming around.
But Gray says soon there will be at least one effort specifically aimed at these wandering sex offenders. Starting June 1, he says, a new program will debut in the city, providing group and individual counseling, polygraphs, and cognitive
classes tailored specifically for sex offenders. Gray wouldn't go into
any more details than that, or if CDCR will choose to locate it next to, say, the maternity ward.
Still, whatever is coming on June 1, it won't be a day reporting center -- where parolees can
snack, hang out, or plug in the GPS units around their ankles that
they're required to charge two hours a day. For that, they'll have to continue to be creative.