On Thursday March 27, California lawmakers announced that the state will
officially stop enforcement of a key provision of Jessica's Law that
limits where registered sex offenders are allowed to live. Here are some
facts about yesterday's announcement:
- The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will
not enforce blanket restrictions that prohibit all sex offenders from
living within 2,000 feet of a school or park.
- The loosening of enforcement was made in order to focus only on high-risk
offenders whose crimes involved children under 14. These offenders will
still be prohibited from living within a half-mile of a school.
- Officials will continue to assess parolees and offenders to determine appropriate
Jessica's law - also known as Proposition 83: Sexual Predator Punishment
and Control Act - was passed by 70% of California voters in 2006. It was
intended to protect youth and communities by preventing convicted offenders
with a history of sex crimes from living near schools or any place where
sparked criticism for imposing tough living restrictions against
all registered sex offenders, regardless of the nature of their crimes. It
also effectively blocked offenders from living in vast majorities of California cities.
Offenders argued that the law made it exceedingly difficult to find housing,
and that it led to homelessness in some cases, which also posed concerns
to communities. In fact, a CDCR report found that homelessness among registered
sex offenders increased by 24 times in the first three years since the
law took effect. Jessica's law was ruled
unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of California on March 2nd.
Yesterday's announcement is a significant change to policies regarding
sex offenders in California communities. Officials stress that the decision
was made in response to the Supreme Court decision and the fact that the
court determined residency restrictions infringed on offenders' constitutional
rights to be free of unreasonable, arbitrary, and oppressive government
Although lawmakers, officials, and experts have assisted in loosening the
living restrictions of Jessica's Law, it is important to remember
that individuals convicted of
sex crimes still face some of the harshest penalties and consequences in our criminal
justice system. This includes mandatory sex offender registration, public
release of information, and many other restrictions - not to mention the
social ramifications of having such a conviction on one's record.