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November 2, 2009

California Supreme Court to hear challenge to sex offender residency restrictions

As detailed in this local article, which is headlined "California Supreme Court to review Jessica's Law," an important challenge to California's sex offender residency restrictions is to be heard this week. Here are the basics:

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday is considering whether the residency restriction contained in Proposition 83 is so broad and intrusive that it violates the constitutional rights of registered sex offenders. Under the law, critics say, many sex offenders cannot find a place to live in urban areas across the state and are effectively forced into homelessness....

"The problem with this law," said attorney Ernest Galvan, who represents S.P and three other convicted sex offenders, "is it arbitrarily banishes people from home and family without any regard to whether the past offense in any way was even related to children."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a strong backer of Proposition 83, is defending the law, along with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which has largely been responsible for enforcement through its parole units. The administration's lawyer declined to comment but in court papers has defended the law's constitutionality. "The residency restriction is designed to protect children, not to punish the offender," state lawyers wrote in court papers.

Jessica's Law, however, has been openly questioned for its effectiveness, even in the law enforcement community, and also for its legality. More than 20 states have adopted similar provisions, with courts taking a mixed view of whether they pass legal muster.  Most courts, including two federal courts in California, have found the laws cannot be applied retroactively to sex offenders who committed their crimes and were released from prison before the laws were passed.

Earlier this year, California's Sex Offender Management Board, which includes many law enforcement officials, urged changes in Jessica's Law and found that the residency restrictions were counterproductive, particularly because of a surge in offenders declaring themselves transients, making it even harder to track their whereabouts.

At the local level, police departments find the law largely unworkable. San Jose police Sgt. Ed Pedreira, head of the city's sex offender unit, noted that Proposition 83 didn't even create a separate crime for violating the residency restriction.  "The intention of the law was good," Pedreira said.  "But what it leaves us with is no teeth in the law to where we can go out and actively enforce it." 

November 2, 2009 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

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Comments

In the past, we discussed the way these registries would generate new duties to warn, to protect.

Here. One of you freaks, says the same, in fancy, idiotic, lawyer gibberish.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1495329

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 2, 2009 11:32:47 PM

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