Struggling to stop paroled sex offenders from "couch surfing" to skirt the tight living restrictions under Jessica's Law, state officials on Wednesday set new rules concerning where homeless parolees can stay and for how long.
The new policy, sent in a memo to parole agents statewide, bars sex offenders who register as transients from staying at any address more than two hours — or the time it takes to charge their GPS anklets — except for work, business or government reasons or for care or treatment services.
- Since when did staying somewhere more than two hours become a crime? This is just insane! What gives you the right to say if they can "couch surf" or not? NAZI GESTAPO! You are just setting them up to fail, and you might as well arrest them, that is your true intention, right?
Among other provisions, Jessica's Law bans registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children "regularly gather." In many urban areas, that leaves sex offenders who fall under the law few if any options. According to the new policy, however, the 2,000-foot rule does not apply to bridges, homeless camps or bus stops because they have no address.
The policy, which takes effect immediately, mirrors one the state Department of Corrections issued in July, then quickly rescinded after legal questions arose. It comes as the number of transient sex offenders steadily rises two years after voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 83. As of last week, nearly 1,300 paroled sex offenders in California are registered transient, according to the agency.
- I thought there was a law suit preventing police from enforcing the SO law, until this was through the legal process? Guess not!
Many of them now bounce between motels and other places that fall within the banned zones, corrections officials say. Most wear GPS anklets allowing the state to track their location. Jessica's Law also allows cities to craft tighter restrictions on where registered sex offenders can live, and some have responded with laws further limiting the housing options — increasing the number of transient offenders.
- You people are just pure evil. You are making it impossible to find a place to live, and when they register as homeless, you then make it impossible to be homeless. Why don't you just admit you want them all in prison and get the GESTAPO out arresting people? This is a DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON'T situation!
"It is growing," Scott Kernan, the department's acting Undersecretary of Operations, said of the transient numbers. "This policy further strengthens our ability to manage the transient population." Sex offenders and their advocates complain that the new rules threaten to further marginalize them, despite a consensus among experts that a stable environment is key to preventing a reoffense. Ernest Galvan, a San Francisco attorney who represents four parolees in a case challenging part of the 2,000-foot rule, said he was "incredulous" about the new rules.
"At some point prohibiting someone from even going indoors starts to encroach on your basic human rights," he said.
"What if it's raining? At some point you're starting to say the person can't operate as a human."
Until now, some parole agents have worked out arrangements that allow transient sex offenders to live in the gray area of a law that did not clearly define a school, a park or how to measure the 2,000 feet. S.T., a registered sex offender in West Contra Costa, said he pays rent on five rooms around the area while he works as a contractor and cares for his ailing wife, who suffers seizures. His parole agent approves of the arrangement, he said.
He spends about six hours a day with his wife at her apartment — which he can't do under the new rules. He can't live with his wife because her apartment is too close to a school.
"It would have a disastrous effect on her medical care," he said. "If the next thing she's on the floor dead, what's the state going to say about that?"
Kernan acknowledged a public safety concern with sex offenders who have no permanent residence, but said the agency must enforce the law.
"To the extent it imposes some hardships on the offender, we continue to try and work with them to find them compliant housing," he said.
- This is a flat out lie! By creating this very law, that proves you are not trying to help anybody!