Opinion

Is California moving a sexual predator to a Sacramento neighborhood because it’s poor and black?

He helps ex-convicts all the time. Why he’s opposed to the release of Dariel Shazier

Mervin Brookins works at the outreach program Brother-to-Brother, which helps ex-offenders in Del Paso Heights. He talked about why he opposes the release of sexually violent predator Dariel Shazier into his community on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019.
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Mervin Brookins works at the outreach program Brother-to-Brother, which helps ex-offenders in Del Paso Heights. He talked about why he opposes the release of sexually violent predator Dariel Shazier into his community on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019.

A violent sexual predator is coming to Sacramento despite the best efforts of an entire community pleading with state officials who are moving an abuser of young boys within a mile of a local high school.

The predator is Dariel Shazier and he is notorious in Santa Clara County, where he was convicted of multiple forcible sex crimes that read like a horror story.

The last several times Shazier was paroled in the early 1990s, he contacted boys even though he was forbidden to do so by the courts. He fondled boys, sodomized them, kissed them and did other things that cannot be repeated in any acceptable way.

Somehow, some way, Shazier has been deemed eligible to be moved into a community after being held in state hospitals for nearly 20 years. And on Tuesday, a Santa Clara County judge approved his relocation to the Del Paso Heights neighborhood of Sacramento. He’ll live very close to Grant High School.

Opinion

How did Del Paso Heights get so lucky?

You might remember that, in 2017, state officials tried to move Shazier to Placer County but residents there rose up and stopped it.

Well, that largely white and affluent community has more pull than Del Paso Heights, a community with residents who are disproportionately living in poverty. It’s a proudly diverse community.

Those characteristics clearly worked against Del Paso Heights. California proves yet again that it is not as diverse and not as cool as it thinks it is. In this case, it wouldn’t dump Shazier into affluent Santa Clara or Placer counties. So he’s on his way to Del Paso Heights.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said she was “extraordinarily disappointed” that Shazier is coming to Sacramento.

“Mr. Shazier has a compulsion to sexually violate children that cannot be cured,” Schubert said. “We also know it can’t be controlled. So the children of Del Paso Heights are being put at risk from an individual who has zero connection to the community.”

Sacramento County officials said they had heard the California Department of State Hospitals and its contractor, Liberty Healthcare, has roughly $6,000 a month to spend on placing Shazier in a house. Did cheaper land values in Del Paso Heights compared to Santa Clara and Placer counties play a role in his placement?

Officials with the California Department of State Hospitals say they are precluded by law to discuss individual cases like that of Shazier’s.

How and why predators like Shazier are relocated is mandated by state law. Basically, that a relocation can happen if a court finds “extraordinary circumstances’ in the case of the accused. According to the state welfare and institutions code, another county can be chosen if that county “was given prior notice and an opportunity to comment on the proposed placement of the committed person in the county, according to procedures set forth in Section 6609.1.”

Sacramento County and Del Paso Heights were given notice and an opportunity to comment on Monday before a court. Their pleas were ignored.

Meanwhile, Shazier is an example of how some offenders should remain incarcerated no matter what.

Consider the views of two people who have dedicated their lives to rehabilitation, but were opposed to Shazier being released in Sacramento.

Lee Seale is the chief probation officer of Sacramento County. He is a statewide leader of integrating ex-convicts into communities. He believes it, lives it. But when he reviewed Shazier’s record, he said this:

“I’m not one to throw the word predatory around, but this guy is a predator,” Seale said Tuesday. “He is dangerous and he has demonstrated that he will re-offend. I don’t think he is safe to be put on our streets.”

Meanwhile, Mervin Brookins, who served more than 20 years in state prison, now helps the Del Paso Heights community through Brother to Brother, a non-profit run by ex-gang members and prisoners that works with high-risk youth through mentoring.

RCB_20190827_Dariel Shazier046.jpg
Mervin Brookins works at the community based outreach program Brother-to-Brother, which helps ex-offenders and ex-gang members rebuild their lives in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood of Sacramento. He talked about his opposition to the release of sexually violent predator Dariel Shazier into his community, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. Renée C. Byer rbyer@sacbee.com

On Monday, Brookins was one of roughly 30 people from Sacramento who traveled to a San Jose courtroom to attempt to stop Shazier from being placed in Del Paso Heights.

“Our community has its challenges but we are a community of second, third and fourth chances,” Brookins said. “It’s not that we’re rejecting anyone who has been incarcerated before. But some of us spoke of the importance of a (released prisoner) having a support network of family and friends. (Shazier) has no connections and it would be impossible for him to succeed.”

Schubert also made the trip to San Jose to speak alongside Brookins and others. And Sacramento City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, and Karina Talamantes, of the Sacramento County Board of Education, were among several community members who spoke to the San Jose court by phone.

Shazier has spent his adult life manipulating young boys and then abusing them. He did it the last several times he was released. What makes anyone think it will be different now? Some prisoners shouldn’t be released. He is one.

And the community of Del Paso Heights does not deserve the danger he will bring just because the state wants it to happen.

Marcos Breton writes commentary and opinion columns about the Sacramento region, California and the United States. He’s been a California newspaperman for more than 30 years. He’s a graduate of San Jose State University, a voter for the Baseball Hall of Fame and the proud son of Mexican immigrants.
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