Commentary: Sex Offender Bills Deserved Defeat

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, January 13, 2006

The two identical bills would have barred registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park.  What’s wrong with that? Plenty. First, the bills were wildly overbroad. They covered people convicted of everything from indecent exposure and groping to child rape.  

The practical effects of the residential ban would be to force tens of thousand of registered sex offenders now living in densely populated cities to move to the country or the suburbs, where there are fewer parks and schools and where law enforcement’s presence is thinner.
Maps produced to demonstrate the impact of the bills showed they would ban virtually all paroled sex offenders from living in Sacramento, San Francisco or Los Angeles.  But huge swaths of the rural north state, Placer and El Dorado Counties and the San Joaquin Valley would offer paroled sex offenders plenty of legal residential options.

Legislators defeated the bills because dumping sex offenders into rural California would have been patently unfair.  

If the bills died, why am I still talking about them? Because a ballot initiative that contains the same dumb proposal is being circulated for signatures now. It’s called Jessica’s Law. If someone asks you to sign it – do your friends in rural California a favor - don’t.