There are several Fresno County sex offenders who've violated the conditions of their parole without serious consequences. Before AB-109, a violation often meant a trip back to state prison. Now, in Fresno County, it could mean almost nothing. And Action News found internal communications showing administrators at the top levels of state government are aware this has become a problem.
School buses and children are a common sight on the grounds of Roeding Park. Unfortunately, so was Mark McDavitt. The 42-year-old had three indecent exposure convictions between 2003 and 2009. This year, he was arrested six times for violating parole -- including a couple times at Roeding Park. But after each arrest, the Fresno County jail released him.
McDavitt didn't stick in the jail until last month when he picked up a new charge for annoying or molesting children.
"Mark McDavitt has a sexual nature criminal background, among other things, and yet he was out in the community, clearly violating what a sex offender should be doing," said Lynne Richard-Brown of Advocates for Public Safety.
Her group represents law enforcement officers across the state in the fight to change the state's prison realignment law -- AB-109. She says Fresno County has one glaring loophole.
The sheriff's office confirms the jail is usually too full to hold anyone for simply violating parole -- which means a sex offender ordered to stay away from children, schools, and parks probably won't stay in jail for violating that order. Action News talked to a registered sex offender who told me parolees are laughing at the system.
"They're probably, you know, enjoying it," he told us. "All right, thinking that they may just get a slap on the hand and be released."
Gregory Bisel is one parolee who may have been laughing. The 54-year-old was convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14 in 1995. But in July, he was caught driving a car with an open container and a 16-year-old runaway boy. He never even went to jail, but a month later, Clovis police arrested him for annoying or molesting a 14-year-old boy at Sierra Vista Mall.
"Why do we have to wait for people to die or people to be victimized before we look at this and say, 'Hmmm. There is a pattern of behavior that's continuing,'" said Richard-Brown.
But it gets worse. Parole agents say they've conducted home calls where child molesters are living in the same house with their victims. And I uncovered internal communications from high levels of state government comparing the situation to what happened with Phillip Garrido, the man who held Jaycee Dugard captive for 18 years.
"At least in the Garrido case the agent did not know the victim or potential victims were there," one communication read.
Action News tried to contact state corrections officials about this issue Thursday, but nobody was made available to respond to our calls.