Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hurting community

   I’m still thinking about Christopher Hubbart, the rapist about to be released in Los Angeles County who I wrote about in my last post. I’m wondering if, in what we do and don’t do, we disable the community and make him more of a threat. Here is my latest column in the Claremont Courier, published last Friday.

   “Someone in the bowels of the bureaucracy made certain assumptions and decisions - I’m not saying they weren’t made in good faith,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “The decisions made apparently suggested they did not have the authority....”
   Or, as Mark Ridley-Thomas, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, put it, “We want to make sure we don’t trip over our own feet here.”
   The county supervisors were talking earlier this month about their need to review their authority over taxpayer-funded rehabilitation clinics and to end payments to clinic operators who break the law. They unanimously voted to have this review and to require the development of safeguards to ensure that parolees, troubled youths and parents who are dealing with alcohol or drug abuse are not referred to clinics whose contracts have been suspended because
   This happened after a July report by CNN and the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed widespread impropriety by California clinic operators providing substance-abuse to the poor. Such programs are funded with federal and state money through contracts awarded through the counties. Many of the abuses, including billing for nonexisting clients, took place in L.A County, the state’s most populous, where, in the fiscal year that ended June 30, $99.5 million was paid to 143 drug and alcohol rehabilitation firms serving 30,000 people.
   Really? Shouldn’t the Board of Supervisors - which supervises, after all - already have authority over, the power to supervise the firms it does business with and the ability to fire them if they are bad, much less criminal? Shouldn’t they already not send
people, especially poor, vulnerable people, to businesses that are known to be fraudulent?
   Clearly, something (like common sense) got loss “in the bowels of the bureaucracy.” This sure is a case where people “trip over our own feet.” Or here’s another way to say what’s going on: the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.
   This doesn’t make things any better for Christopher Hubbart, who I wrote about several weeks ago. It doesn’t make us feel any better about him.
   Christopher Hubbart is the notorious serial rapist, known as the “pillowcase rapist,” having admittedly raped over 40 women in California, who once lived with his parents in Claremont and who was recently ordered freed from a prison hospital where he has been kept for nearly twenty years after being in and out of prison for about twenty years. Despite the fact that doctors say that it is now safe to release the 62-year-old Hubbart and that he will be heavily supervised and no longer has ties to Claremont, with his parents having died and their house having been sold, numerous officials, including in Claremont, are fighting this release, at least in this county.
   Not helping is that next to the article in the Los Angeles Times about the Board of Supervisors was an article revealing that the “person of interest” in a murder case is a released “high-risk” sex offender who had tampered with his GPS monitoring device.
    The article stated that the body of Sandra Coke, a federal investigator and Oakland resident who had been missing, was discovered and that the last person to be seen with her alive was Randy Alana, a parolee listed in the state’s Megan’s Law database with convictions for rape, rape in concert with force or violence, kidnapping with intent to commit a sex offense and oral copulation. According to the article, the database noted that Alana had been in violation of registration requirements since June 11, there was a warrant for his arrest August 6 for failure “to participate” in the monitoring program and, although an alarm sounds when a GPS device is tampered with, it was unclear when Alana tampered with his device and what parole officers knew about his whereabouts. The article also noted that Alana and Coke dated briefly two decades ago and that he had recently contacted her.
   Another article in the Times a few days later revealed that Alana had been specifically ordered to stay away from Coke.
   Again, evidently, things got loss “somewhere in the bowels of the bureaucracy,” and there was plenty of “trip[ping] over our own feet,” leaving a trail of questions. Why wasn’t Alana searched for when he failed to renew his database registration on June 11? If an alarm goes off when the GPS device is tampered off, why is it “unclear” when Alana tampered with his? If someone reported seeing Alana with Coke before Coke was reported missing, why wasn’t there an all-out search then? How much of an effort was made to find Alana after the August 6 arrest warrant? With there being a restraining order, why wasn’t anything done when Alana first contacted Coke recently?
   What else was left in this case, besides too few answers, was a murdered woman, a woman known for “her good cheer, easy laugh and generous hugs” who will be remembered and missed “as an unusually kind, generous and big-hearted person” by her family and friends.
   No wonder we are afraid of Christopher Hubbart living nearby, even with heavy supervision, including a GPS monitoring device. No wonder we rather he was gone, rather not deal with this man who has been punished and who clearly is troubled and needs help.
   Is there a way, with our many resources, for Christopher Hubbart to have the opportunity to live out in the community, saving taxpayer funds, and for us to be safe? How can we be sure that, while living among us, he gets the help he so badly needs and that we are not in danger?
   It is so much easier to let him and the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, the abandoned go somewhere else, “somewhere in the bowels of the bureaucracy.” It is so much easier not to reach out, not to make the effort and use the resources. It is so much easier to cry and rant when we “trip over our own feet” with outrageous and tragic results.  

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