California is trying to determine exactly where sex offenders should be allowed to live and not live. In March, the California Supreme Court struck down a blanket ban in San Diego that prevented all registered sex offenders from living near schools or parks. The Supreme Court said that sex offender housing restrictions must be made on a case-by-case basis. This altered the 8-year ban that prevented all registered sex offenders from living near schools and parks. Instead, those restrictions will only be imposed on pedophiles and those who have been convicted of a sex crime that involved a child.
While the ruling only applied to San Diego County sex offenders, the California prison officials determined that they would abide by the new ruling statewide. After the ruling, California prison officials said that they would require parole agents to determine residency restrictions themselves for the more than 6,000 offenders they monitor.
Yet, these guidelines are not being applied evenly across the state. Several cities and counties have already appealed their restrictions and others say they will continue to enforce blanket rules.
The issue at hand is whether all registered sex offenders should be prevented from living and working near schools and public parks. Sex offender registration could be the result of child molestation or something else entirely like indecent exposure or having sex in a public place. Those who are against a blanket ban say that not all sex offenses require such rigid housing restrictions, as not all sex offenders are high-risk offenders. They also believe that the residency restrictions in place are so restrictive that they force many sex offenders into homelessness.
California Penal Code §290 requires mandatory registration as a sex offender for persons who are convicted of specific sex crimes, such as lewd and lascivious behavior, child molestation, indecent exposure, and others sex crimes.
Those who are against this new ruling say that this may be just the tip of the iceberg. Sen. Jim Nielsen, R- Gerber said that the decision is "putting the public at risk". He also said that, " Sex offenders are hard to rehabilitate. They tend to re-offend. They tend to victimize."
George Runner, who co-authored Jessica's Law with his wife, also added, " I hope this is not an open door that the department can place child molesters or rapists across the street from a school."