San Diego sex offender residency law ruled unconstitutional

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SACRAMENTO – The California Supreme Court said Monday that San Diego County’s blanket ban on where sex offenders may live is unconstitutional.

The high court struck down blanket mandatory residency restrictions on San Diego County sex offenders, ruling that the limits had raised the risk of homelessness and hampered the ability of law enforcement to monitor parolees, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The decision applies specifically to San Diego County, where residency requirements established by Jessica’s Law made it impossible for some offenders to find a place to live. However, the ruling also paves the way for offenders in other counties, particularly those with large cities, to show that such requirements must be relaxed.

The 2006 “Jessica’s Law,” passed by voters prohibited sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks where children gather, regardless of whether the parolee’s crime involved children.

San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob says the ruling is putting children at risk.

“This is about keeping our kids safe and the court unfortunately overruled what voters had supported… when you vote on something you figure that’s law and our children are going to be protected at schools, daycare centers and that’s not the case here,” said Jacob.

Jacob also said as of now, there is no plan in place to challenge the court’s ruling, which was unanimous.

“Blanket enforcement of the residency restrictions against these parolees has severely restricted their ability to find housing … greatly increased the incidence of homelessness among them, and hindered their access to medical treatment, drug and alcohol dependency services, psychological counseling and other rehabilitative social services available to all parolees,” Justice Marvin R. Baxter wrote for the court.

Read the full story at Los Angeles Times


  • mike

    The court was wrong on both sides of these verdicts: parolees got pardoned and offenders who have served their sentences were told that registration and residency restrictions were not punitive. The name of the law was something like “sexual predators PUNISHMENT and control act.” Everyone knows it’s punishment, that’s why it’s so popular! This is an important ruling for due process that makes me feel like justice is being done. MANY sex offenses (all of which require lifetime registration ) should not be treated as violent rapists or pedophiles. I don’t think that letting low-level offenders and their families move on with their lives puts anyone at risk. Too much of the registry throws hay on the needlestack, obscuring the truly dangerous pricks out there who shouldn’t even be out there. There’s a big difference between a dumb old boy and a dirty old man, and I hope this decision finally separates them legally. Too bad that execution is considered cruel and unusual punishment but making someone with a decades old conviction (and their family) pick up and move every time someone wants to open a daycare is not. Blanket legislation like this is a gestapo tactic to punish an entire group for the actions of others is not just; holding individual offenders accountable for their own actions through sentencing is. On its face this looks like liberal judges running amok, but it’s quite appropriate actually. We don’t treat people convicted of manslaughter like serial killers; we shouldn’t treat a one-time statutory rape conviction like a serial pedophile decades after they serve their sentence either. The Constitution protects the rights of the despised, and to a certain extent, I’m grateful for that. The precedent this could have set would truly be a Trojan horse to the Bill of Rights. ..especially since the law was working in a counterproductive way. The only goal it was achieving was punishing offenders, but the court said it was not punishment. Go figure.

  • vaspeaks

    I attended the Supreme Court oral arguments, and I am delighted at this verdict. Yes, delighted. Don’t hate on me – I am quoting one of the Justices when I say – these laws (residency restrictions) have a PERVERSE EFFECT ON PUBLIC SAFETY. They destabilize people, when those people most need support and assistance in reintegrating into society. Don’t want them to reintegrate into society? Then don’t release them. But if they are released, allow them a chance to reintegrate. Beating a man when he is down is not admirable. Forgiveness, redemption and reintegration are the reason we have parole. Allow people to find homes, jobs, social supports. Again, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to participate. But making things harder for parolees does not make our community any safer.

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