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California's other housing problem -- where to put sex offenders?

Just because we passed it doesn't mean that a law can work -- or that it makes sense.

There's Jessica's Law. It's the one that 70% of voters approved, and it sets such stringent restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live -- not within 2,000 feet of schools or parks or other areas where children may be -- that many offenders are finding they have to live ''off the grid,'' under bridges, alongside freeways, or on the street. Perversely, law enforcement experts worry that the law will make it harder, not easier, to keep track of sex offenders.

This is not to say your heart should bleed for sex offenders; it is about the fact that it's almost impossible, especially in cities, to find anyplace that doesn't fall within 2,000 feet of off-limits places. And that has, as I said, driven some sex offenders underground. And the number of paroled sex offenders will just keep getting bigger every year -- again because of laws voters enthusiastically pass.

Whatever else Jessica's Law is costing to enforce, it's also costing the state nearly $25 million a year to play landlord to these people, who have to live somewhere, and who have to be in contact with law enforcement -- again, to abide by the law. So the state has had to find housing and sometimes pay rent for some of them.

As one example of how complicated that is, in Monterey County, a company with a state contract to find appropriate housing for a convicted child molester had to review more than 1,500 different places before it finally found one that met the Jessica's Law criteria. Multiply that process by thousands of sex offenders, and you get a glimmer of the problem.

The emotional impact of child molesting has created an equally emotional impact evident from the slew of laws voters pass to deal with the crime.

A former state corrections secretary in the Schwarzenegger administration, Jeanne Woodford, says, "This is what really happens when we allow our emotions to get the best of us, as opposed to dealing with the facts.''

 

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CFCAMERICA

Not to mention the fact, that many states passed registration laws which were applied against the Constitution's banning of Retroactive lawmaking...

Going back 20, 30 years and adding new punishment to persons who have not committed any crimes for 20 or 30 years... http://www.collateralvictims.com

YapYap

Thank you for this insightful (and no doubt educational for many) article on how some laws are just downright impossible.

Even though we may not feel too much sympathy for sex offenders of the predatory kind, people should keep in mind that the large majority of our state's "sex offenders" are young men whose girlfriend lied about being over the age of consent and had parents who hated his guts. So he gets arrested for having consensual sex with the girl he loves and put away in prison, forced to register as a sex offender and live a stigmatized life because some parents apparently can't accept that little girls grow up.

I think it's time to seriously reconsider this law - and all our criminal and sentencing laws now we're at it - and fix the problems us voters have created. Jessica's Law, the Three Strikes Law and our harsh sentencing laws that makes prison time mandatory even for small-time crimes where alternative sentencing would be sufficient (parole violations for small things such as missing an appointment with a parole officer) are the cause for most of the problems our state is facing right now as far as overcrowded prisons, unconstitutional health care, the high incarceration rates and the high recidivism rates go.

We should get smart on crime and think about how to fight crime more effectively - and thus prevent crime instead of only punishing afterwards - instead of just blindly voting for even tougher measures that obviously don't make our streets any safer.

Sandy Port

Jessica's Law aka Prop 83 is a poorly written, impossible to enforce law. It needs to be scrapped and replaced with something workable. Those GPS monitoring devises and the CDCr personel needed to monitor them are very expensive. Once the individual has completed the terms of parole they should be left alone to rebuild their lives, not monitored for LIFE! In an era where we as a state are facing insolvency where is the money going to come from? I know -from the poor, blind, disabled, elderly, and the students who are having their programs cut. The recidivism rate for the sex offenders is very low. Stop trying to scare the public That's how Prop 83 was passes in the first place!
Sue

insightful_genius

Jessica's Law has harmed far more children of sex offenders than it has ever protected. Google up Jessica's Law......No Way to see the facts. Did you know that 40% of "child molesters" are under the age of 18 yrs old? How ridiculous to mark teens for life for having sex with one another. Did you know that the part of the Adam Walsh Act that was challenged (the rest needs to be challenged as well) was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court? A criminal AG Alberto Gonzales re-wrote parts of the Adam Walsh act on his way down, trying to impress fellow Republicans, and nobody even challenged something that will cost states BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, while it doesn't protect even one child? Sex offenders often have wives, children, parents, who are also cast adrift. All it takes to be convicted of being a sex offender is an accusation, no actual evidence is required.

Buchanan

While I will concede that there are those who may be a danger to others, Jessica's Law includes "all sex offences" to matter how small. It violates civil and constitutional rights.

Yes, it is our duty to protect children, but many of these offenses had absolutely nothing to do with children.
And, it is destroying the children in these families. Their lives are actually in jepordy. These children are being ridiculed at their schools.

We, as a society have created a monster. The costs will keep mounting..both economically, and emotionally.

Remember, that in 45 other states the "age of consent" is lower then in California. Meaning that many who are considered a "sex offender" here, would not have been in another area of our country.

These laws must be reformed.

fern

Why don't you just kill all the sex offenders period even If the sex offender is in for consensual "statutory rape" that's just too bad, but God in heaven will surely provide him with a decent place in paradise, you'll save big bucks and your kids will be safe, too bad if later on they'll become crooks or gang members, or even worse sin of the sins homosexual.
Another way to save money is to stop the police for wasting their time going after violent crime, gang members and drug dealers, this way they may focus more on sexual crimes.

art

Now that the state has cut back on C.D.C. due to the budget, sex offenders will be homeless and free to roam the streets at night, where before when C.D.C. was housing them they had a curfew. Now they do not...


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