Judge grants unconditional release to sex predator
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Judge grants unconditional release to sex predator

ASSOCIATED PRESS/September 15, 2004

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A judge on Monday unconditionally released Brian DeVries, a sexually violent predator who has spent the last year under constant surveillance in a trailer on the edge of a prison.

DeVries, 45, planned to move to Washington state.

He has been in and out of prison over the past 20 years after molesting at least nine young boys in New Hampshire, Florida and San Jose. He then spent more than six years in California's post-prison treatment program for "the worst of the worst" sex offenders before moving on to the trailer at Soledad's state prison.

DeVries grinned Monday after Santa Clara County Judge Robert Baines told him he is free to travel wherever he wants, as long as he registers regularly with police.

"Good luck, Mr. DeVries, and for God's sake don't prove me wrong," Baines said.

DeVries and his treatment supervisor headed down to Soledad to pack up his belongings and notify police that he was leaving for Washington.

DeVries planned to live with his father and stepmother in the Shelton, Wash., area for a month before moving to a trailer on a plot of land his father owns. He hoped to leave California immediately and stay in Oregon for a couple days to do some hiking along the way.

Like all sex offenders, DeVries must register periodically with local authorities and each time he changes his address. But he faces no more restrictions on his movements, no supervision and no therapy requirements.

Outside court, DeVries vowed that he wouldn't offend again.

"You have to check and balance your thoughts all the time," he said. "I'm going to live that way now and in the future."

DeVries, who makes jewelry, said he plans to run a jewelry business he started with a longtime friend. He said he's excited about not having to constantly notify authorities about his activities and whereabouts and not having to ask permission whenever he wants to go somewhere. But he plans to continue living a life of restraint.

"My abstinent lifestyle is going to be a lifestyle," DeVries said. "I'm going to put constraints on myself."

DeVries, the first graduate of California's treatment program for sexually violent predators at Atascadero State Hospital, got additional outpatient treatment during the year he spent living alone in Soledad.

DeVries' father and stepmother came to court to support him, and cried when the decision was announced. "Now he goes on with his life," Barry DeVries said outside court.

Two experts disagreed about whether he's ready to be released from custody.

The psychologist who has spent the past year treating DeVries said he needs more therapy, but a second therapist who spent more than eight hours interviewing and testing DeVries said he's ready for unsupervised release.

"I think we have to allow people to change," psychologist Charlene Steen testified on his behalf Monday. "He has clearly changed his behavior ... He's done everything in his power not to reoffend."

DeVries was voluntarily castrated in August 2001, a surgery he says took away his capacity for sexual arousal, though some experts doubt the effectiveness of such surgeries.

Since graduating in August 2003 from the state Department of Mental Health's treatment program, he's been required to participate in group and individual therapy, to register with local law enforcement every 90 days, to submit to random searches and drug testing and to be constantly surveilled with a global positioning satellite monitoring device.

While prosecutor Dana Overstreet acknowledged DeVries has done "very well," she was troubled by several minor rule violations, such as forgetting his GPS battery pack and stopping for lunch without permission.

Atascadero's treatment program is designed for California's most serious, violent, repeat sex offenders. Those who fit the profile are sent to the mental hospital after serving their prison sentences, and can be recommitted every two years until a judge decides they're no longer a threat to society.

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911:  The Road to Tyranny