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November 16, 2010

Notable commentary about California's sex offender residency restrictions

A couple of major papers in California have a couple of notable commentaries about the state's sex offender residency restrictions.  First, the Sacremento Bee has this editorial, headlined "Jessica's Law needs a major overhaul." Here is a snippet:

Proposition 83, the 2006 initiative popularly known as Jessica's Law, banned sexual predators from living within 2,000 feet of public and private schools and parks where children regularly congregate.

The initiative promised that those restrictions would make us all safer.  Voters believed the sales job, approving the measure overwhelmingly, 70.5 percent for it and 29.5 percent against.

As it turned out, the measure has fallen short of promises. Unrealistic restrictions have made it impossible for hundreds of paroled sex offenders to find legal places to live. Predictably, homelessness has soared.  Before voters approved the initiative, 88 registered sex offenders on parole were homeless. Today, 2,100 sex offender parolees are considered to be transient, a 24-fold increase. The Sex Offender Supervision and GPS Task Force stated the obvious in a report released last week: "Homeless sex offenders put the public at risk."

This is no soft-on-crime panel. Composed of police chiefs, victims' advocates, and parole and probation officers, the task force found that homeless parolees were more unstable and therefore more likely to abscond from supervision or to reoffend. Homelessness makes GPS tracking, another key feature of Jessica's Law, more expensive and more difficult to carry out.

Second, there is this op-ed from a public defender in the Los Angeles Times, which is headlined "Stop the sex offender fear-mongering." Here is how it starts:

Some critics of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza's order temporarily staying enforcement of the sex offender residency restrictions of Jessica's Law, reported by The Times on Nov. 5, are exploiting the legitimate fears of decent people.  These critics ignore the reality that these particular residency restrictions apply to all paroled sex registrants, most of whom have never harmed a child, and do not effectively protect our children.  In fact, by creating a crisis of homelessness among sex registrants, broad residency restrictions actually endanger our community.  Ordinarily, the recidivism rate among the vast preponderance of sex offenders is low.  Why destabilize them and create a far greater risk of reoffending?  Indeed, Espinoza's order came after the defenders of the residency restriction failed to offer any evidence or argument to the contrary.

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November 16, 2010 at 08:18 AM | Permalink

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Comments

The truth is becoming visible finally.

Ignorance was never bliss!!!!! Thanks to the politician's, our streets are not safe.

"The safety of the people comes first".....that is a maxim. Do politician's know what a maxim is?? Do the courts?????

Posted by: Book38 | Nov 17, 2010 12:06:38 AM

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