Eleven years after former UCSB student David Attias ran his car into an Isla Vista crowd killing four, Santa Barbara Judge Thomas Adams approved his petition to be released to an outpatient treatment program in Ventura County.
Found not guilty by reason of insanity during his initial trial in 2002, Attias spent the past decade confined to Patton State Mental Hospital until his release on Aug. 30. Judge Adams, who also presided over the 2002 trial, ruled that Attias is no longer a danger to society and approved his transfer to an unlocked group facility in Oxnard where he and 57 other patients will be monitored by four supervisors.
As part of California’s Forensic Conditional Release Program (CONREP), Attias is required to continue his medication for bipolar disorder and attend regular therapy sessions in Ventura. According to the California Department of Mental Health website, CONREP most frequently treats young males with severe mental problems, with 85 percent of patients having committed violent felonies.
While only six percent of CONREP patients reoffend after treatment — as opposed to non-CONREP grads, 27 percent of whom reoffend within two years — Attias’ release is contingent upon his good behavior and continued progress.
“In the event that David Attias falters in his treatment rehabilitation, and if it is deemed necessary by his treating professionals, he can and will be returned to Patton State Hospital to continue his residency in that setting,” the court report states.
According to Sgt. Mark Williams of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, the ruling leaves Attias free to revisit the scene of his grisly crime.
“I’m not aware of any type of court-ordered restriction but if he does have one and he was to come to Isla Vista then that is one issue you can notify us with … But if he has no restrictions and
he is just free then there is not a whole lot to do about where he travels,” Williams said.
Second-year communication major Brooke Adair said though Attias might be ready for the CONREP program, he should be treated in a different location out of respect for the victims’ families.
“I believe it is a very touchy subject and it is difficult to decide especially when you know the victims of the accident,” Adair said. “I don’t think he should be living in Ventura County because it is such a sensitive subject that happened in a small community. I think releasing him into a local area would potentially upset a lot of people.”
Though Attias was cited for multiple behavioral violations during his time at Patton — such as sending explicit letters to another patient’s sister in 2008 — several experts who worked with Attias testified that they feel he no longer poses a threat to society. There is currently no set date for Attias’ graduation from CONREP.
Second-year environmental science major Asami Osato said Attias should not have been treated any differently than any other murderer because he was declared insane.
“Murderers should go to jail for a lifetime, not just a decade,” Osato said. “He definitely should not go free after killing four people — whether he is a danger to the community or not.”