After seven years spent as a political prisoner of the County of Shasta and the California Department of Mental Health ("DMH"), following thirteen years as a guest of the California Department of Corrections, I, Tom Watson was finally released on June 2, 2008, after 20 total years.
Four of the DMH contract evaluators issued reports in 2007, in which three evaluators found me to NOT meet the requirements for commitment under the SVPA. One lone evaluator found I did meet the criteria, but his report contained a statement that this was a marginal case. Due to politics, the Shasta County District Attorney refused to drop the petition for commitment until June 2, 2008. It is uncertain what made him finally drop a petition that he had insufficient evidence under the law to prevail on, but there is speculation it was a budget decision. The DA would have looked foolish spending funds on an unwinnable trial during a huge budget deficit period.
Nevertheless, when released, the "system" made it as hard on me as possible. They released me with no identification documents. I cannot believe that a law enforcement agency did not know the meaning of this maneuver in this day and age under the Patriot Act.
When a person being detained by the DMH at a State Hospital is picked up by a county, taken back for court proceedings in that county, and later released by that county, there is a history of counties giving the person nothing upon release. Thus, the biggest problem occurs in that scenario. If you were fortunate enough to have any documents, like a birth certificate or California ID, being held in trust by the DMH, the trust office will send that stuff with you when you are picked up by the county. However, most civil detainees, such as myself, do not have such documents being held in trust.
Thus, when I was released, the County of Shasta did so without giving me any sort of ID, and that has been the root of almost every problem I have had. As you may or may not know, under the present laws it is illegal to not have a valid photo ID on your person. If you get stopped by the gestapo and you don’t have one, you can be arrested.
On June 3, 2008, I attempted to do a temporary registration in Tehama County, where I had a temporary place to stay. When I went to the Sheriff’s Office in Red Bluff, I was told I could not register without a Valid Photo ID and that I had five days to get one and get registered. This was a serious problem that was starting to look like a set up.
The fact that I unable to register, at that time, was probably a good thing as I later learned that there is a park within 2000 feet of the place I was offered temporary housing. A place that is twenty miles out of town and there is a happens to be a park there. It Appears there really is nowhere to legally live in California under Megan’s Law.
I called the Public Defender ("PD") who handled my case and told him the problem. He simply reiterated his warning that I needed to just get out of California, and passed on the following story:
There had been some drama in one of the courts during the first week of June 2008. It involved a seven-year-old case that had not gone to trial until 2008. In 2001, I had interviewed a guy who told me "his side of the story," and written a summary/article containing this information. This article was subsequently circulated on the Internet. It was no more than a simple article, yet somehow this article was introduced into court as some sort of factual evidence. Because of this, my name got raked over the coals in absentia, and the Deputy District Attorney ("DA"), made statements on the record questioning how the court could possibly believe a sex offender, yada, yada, yada. After the official court session was over, the public gone, and only the real players left in presence, the PD told me it really got deep. The judge was very angry that I had gotten out, even the clerk had her say. All the hate was vented. The PD told me that the judge said they still had a chance to get me, as I only had five days to register. The thing that I still don’t understand is how did anyone get an Internet article, which was hearsay at best, introduced as evidence in a criminal case. There is something wrong with everything they do in that county.
When I received this information, I knew there was some sort of conspiracy and that I would never be safe in California.
With things beyond my control heating up in the Redding area, the Public Defender’s warning that they were actively trying to bring me back into the criminal justice system, and the fact that I was having great difficulty finding anyplace legal to live under Megan’s Law, especially without having a valid ID card, I had to hit the road before I was ready. The local tough on crime establishment was so angry that they had to release me that they were playing games to get me back, but as a criminal. The only choice was to get the hell out of Dodge.
They had done something that saved me, but I hadn’t seen it yet. They made one mistake which allowed me to get out of the proverbial Dodge. They had taped a booking mug shot with my name, birth date, NCIC, FBI, etc., information on the side of a box of property that had been in storage at the jail since 2006. When I was released, they brought this box and I said what’s that? They said we’ve been storing this for you since 2006. I paid no attention to the box and threw it in temporary storage. At the time, I was more concerned with the fact that the Shasta County Jail had "lost" my laptop computer than I was with a box of old, outdated, paperwork.
After the previously described drama, as I gathered my meager property together, I inadvertently noticed they had taped a color printout of my picture, name, vital statistics, and all the NCIC, FBI numbers, etc., to the side of the box. Well, it was a picture ID of sorts. It was not really a "Valid" ID, and certainly not one you would want to use too much, especially when trying to rent.
I arranged transportation to Oregon, and was told the Jail had "found" my "lost" laptop computer. On Thursday, June 5, 2008, I fetched my computer from the Jail, went straight from there to the Sheriff’s Main Office, and used the color printout I had retrieved from the side of the box of property, as a photo ID to do an exit registration. The next day, Friday, June 6, I used the same printout to do a registration in Oregon. It is not exactly the type of ID one likes to show potential landlords, but it did get me out of the pot and away from the fire.
By the time I fetched my "lost" computer and played the exit registration game, it was after 14:00 when we hit the road. At the time we exited Shasta County, I called for a moment of irreverence, where we had a moment of silence followed with an "Up yours Shasta County!" As we approached the California border, I called for another similar moment of irreverence. Awh, free air at last. Gone from that hate state!!!!
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