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November 5, 2010

State judge declares California sex offender residency restriction unconstitutional

As detailed in this Los Angeles Times article, " a Los Angeles judge issued an opinion this week blocking enforcement of provisions a state law restricting how close those offenders can live from parks or schools." Here is more:

Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza issued the 10-page ruling after four registered sex offenders petitioned the court, arguing that the legislation known as Jessica's Law was unconstitutional.

He said the court had received about 650 habeas corpus petitions raising similar legal issues, and that hundreds more were being prepared by the public defender's and alternate public defender's offices.  "The court is not a 'potted plant' and need not sit idly by in the face of immediate, ongoing and significant violations of parolee constitutional rights," Espinoza wrote.

Proposition 83, which is better known as Jessica's Law and was overwhelmingly passed by state voters in 2006, imposes strict residency requirements on sex offenders, including requirements forbidding them from residing within 2,000 feet of any public or private school or park where children regularly gather.  Before the law passed, those residency requirements were imposed only on offenders whose victims were children.

Civil rights attorneys have argued that provisions of the law make it impossible for some registered sex offenders to live in densely populated cities.  Nearly all of San Francisco, for example, is off-limits to sex offenders because of the number of parks and schools close to housing. Los Angeles officials also said that there are few places in the city where sex offenders can find housing that meets Jessica's Law requirements.

The California Supreme Court ruled in February that registered sex offenders could challenge residency requirements in the law if it proves impossible to avoid living near parks and schools. State corrections officials said Wednesday that they could not comment on the specifics of Espinoza's ruling, but said they would continue to ensure residency restrictions are imposed in cases where there is a valid reason to continue enforcing them....

In his opinion, Espinoza cited comments by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck that the Jessica's Law restrictions had resulted in "a marked increase of homeless/transient registrants."  The judge noted that in 2007, there were 30 homeless sex offenders on active parole in the city of Los Angeles.  By September of this year, that number had jumped to 259.

November 5, 2010 at 08:10 AM | Permalink


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Four years of court room nonsense.. shouldn't they have to check constitutionality of laws BEFORE they try to pass them? I hope those effected can sue for damages.

Posted by: tbucket | Nov 5, 2010 4:19:50 PM

Finally, a judge with some sanity.

Posted by: DLJ | Nov 5, 2010 4:50:45 PM

You'd think they would check the constitution, but its surprising how often they don't. Usually the law affects some caste of society that is unfavorable to begin with. Therefore, very few will raise an eyebrow in objection. This is nothing new though. Many of us have stated that several times in the past.

Moving from California to Ohio though, I fear for both a family member and many others in the state now. I'm sure everyone is tired of anything political, but the new AG-elect made his bones by prosecuting and helping to start the stings that have since spread across the country. I would not be surprised if new and questionable mandates are in the future.

Posted by: Questions_Authority | Nov 5, 2010 6:23:41 PM

I work with juvenile sex offenders, and I have been arguing this point for over a year now. It is encouraging to see that some judges have started to see reason when it comes to this issue.

Posted by: Max | Nov 6, 2010 10:53:14 AM

now me seeing as the ONLY real decision by the U.S Supreme court said the registry was LEGAL BECASUE it was not like probation/parole and the ways it was not like them...was it did NOT require in person reporting and had NO living or working restrictions i think this law and every other like it are illgal on THEIR FACE and it doesn't require another judge to confirm that!

I also think anyone who continues to try and pass them KNOWING the U.S Supreme Court has in FACT asa well as LAW said they are illegal who is an elected offical who took an oath to uphold the constitution of this country is a TRAITOR to that oath and under the wartime rules is eligible for the death penalty at the very least for terminal stupdity!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 6, 2010 12:49:18 PM

There are news articles all over the place about the 10-page ruling and mentions of parts of the opinion, but no citation of the case being discussed. How can one find the name of the case and/or citation in order to read the actual opinion?

I'm sure there are many people who would be interesting in researching Judge Espinoza's reasoning behind his decision.

Posted by: dr | Nov 10, 2010 1:05:35 PM

Yes this is unconstitutional if they did not anything to do with touching children why are they in the same class as them? but no one should be homeless at all put yourselves in their place it cold out how sad is that get a life.

Posted by: Maureen | Nov 27, 2010 7:19:15 PM

I couldn't agree more that this whole ordeal is unconstitutional. I mean, really? Because the nature of the crimes? Of all other heinous crimes committed, this category of criminal law is often overlooked as to whether the measures surpass reasonable boundaries. I am surprised that this law was passed with overwhelming results without looking at the impact it would have on the offender. None of these measure have created a significant drop in recidivism, although recidivism of these crimes are the lowest.

This area of law has been around for so long, but is still very taboo. You would think that over the many decades since passing this laws and others before it, there would be viable statutes and conditions for handling the individuals convicted. As stated before, because we wholly as a society, ignore how grave the effects are on sex offenders, there is little done to make changes. Does it not concern you? If peace officers are having trouble handling the drastic increase and tracking of transient sex offender, is it not obvious that holding this law in place is more grave than not having it at all?

Posted by: Tony | Dec 8, 2010 9:33:12 PM

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