Wednesday, July 9, 2014

CA - Do Residency Bans Drive Sex Offenders Underground?

Question mark
Original Article

07/07/2014

By Steven Yoder

Early last year, Los Angeles set aside a sliver of land in its Harbor Gateway neighborhood for the city’s newest and smallest park: two jungle gyms on a fifth of an acre.

The project was more than just an effort to increase the city’s green space. City Council members made clear that one of the park’s principal reasons for existence was to force 33 people on the California sex offender registry who were living in a nearby apartment building to move out. State law bars those on its registry from living within 2,000 feet of a park or school.

We came together, working with the police department, to problem-solve, to send a message that Harbor Gateway cannot be dumped upon with a high number of registered sex offenders,” councilman Joe Buscaino said (Video) at the park’s opening.
- Just imaging how much money would be wasted if all grandstanding politician were to put pocket parks all over the state just so they can "look tough" on ex-sex offenders?  That is all this is, grandstanding!

But the state ban itself already clusters registrants into a limited number of areas, according to a September 2011 report by the California Sex Offender Management Board, which was created by the state legislature to advise it on sex offender policies.

California hasn’t been alone in its tough approach to ensuring that formerly incarcerated sex offenders pose no danger after they are released. As part of a wave of new sex offender laws starting in the mid-1990s, about 30 states and thousands of cities and towns passed such residency restrictions—prompting in turn a pushback from civil liberties advocates, state legislators and registrants themselves who argued the restrictions were not only unduly harsh but counterproductive.

But a court decision in Colorado last year could mark a shift in momentum.

In the Colorado case, _____, a high school soccer coach convicted in 2001 for a consensual sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student, was sentenced to seven years’ probation and put on the state sex offender registry.

Eleven years later, in 2012, he and his wife bought a house in the city of Englewood. But the police department told him he couldn’t live there because of a city ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks and playgrounds—a law that effectively made 99 percent of its homes and rentals off limits to offenders.

Englewood police also warned offenders that even in the open one percent, if they contacted a homeowner whose property wasn’t for rent or for sale, they could be charged with trespassing.

_____ sued, and last August a federal court concluded that the city’s ban went too far.

The judge ruled that it conflicted with the state’s existing system for managing and reintegrating sex offenders and could encourage other towns and cities to do the same, effectively barring offenders from the entire state. Englewood has appealed, but two of the state’s five other cities that have residence bans have softened their restrictions since the decision.

The other three are awaiting the outcome of the appeal, according to John Krieger of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado, which represented Ryals.


CA - Sex-offender ordinance to be repealed

Unconstitutional
Original Article

07/06/2014

By CRAIG SHULTZ and DAYNA STRAEHLEY

Riverside County is poised to do away with an ordinance that sets rules on where sex offenders can live or visit in an effort to avoid a lawsuit.

The county established sex-offender residency and loitering prohibitions for unincorporated areas in 2010, but the Board of Supervisors gave preliminary approval last week to repeal the law because an appeal court has invalidated similar ordinances in other municipalities.

Hemet and Beaumont changed their ordinances recently for the same reason.

The county ordinance sets limits on where parolees could live and how close they could come to schools, parks and child care centers. The court said such laws are unnecessary because local ordinances regulating sex offenders are trumped by state law, a county report states.

County counsel insisted that the 2010 law be repealed because a legal group has been suing other counties that had passed similar ordinances, said Jeff Greene, chief of staff for Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries.

The courts have struck down every meaningful provision of our ordinance in other counties,” Greene said.

We asked if there was any of this that ought to be salvaged,” he said. The county counsel’s office insisted that there are still “good protections for families against sex offenders.”

State penal code provisions include a lifetime requirements for sex offenders to register with local law enforcement, prohibitions against entering any park where children gather and a prohibition against a sex offender living with other sex offenders or within 2,000 feet of a school or park.

The 2010 county ordinance prohibited sex offenders from being within 300 feet of a park, school or day care center Supervisors have not heard objections to the repeal of the ordinance from the sheriff or district attorney, Greene said.

The county ordinance came amid public furor over the prospect of a child rapist and killer, _____, being released to a Perris-area group home. _____ eventually was turned away from the facility. Two court rulings said parts of the ordinance were illegal.

In September 2012, the 4th District Court of Appeal’s ruling on a San Diego County case decided that blanket restrictions of Jessica’s Law were unconstitutional.

The law, named after Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old Florida girl who was the murder victim of a convicted sex offender who had failed to report his whereabouts, was approved by California voters in 2006 (Proposition 83).

It requires registered sex offenders who have been convicted of a felony sex offense to be monitored by GPS devices and includes a number of other provisions that increase the legal penalties for specified sex offenses.

The ruling does not prohibit the Department of Corrections from individually enforcing residency restrictions of the law in San Diego County, but disallowed blanket enforcement.

A different division of the same Court of Appeal issued a decision earlier this year invalidating ordinances in the city of Irvine and Orange County that prohibited sex offenders from entering public parks and recreational facilities.

The state Supreme Court in April denied Irvine’s request to review the decision, keeping the ruling in place.