FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 18, 2012
California Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL) today filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the sex offender ordinance adopted by the City of Lancaster. The ordinance prohibits all sex offenders from entering both public and private areas, including the city’s library, museum, and parks as well as privately owned arcades and movie theaters.
The bases for the challenge are violations of the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. constitution as well as Article XI of the California constitution. The ordinance was adopted by the Lancaster City Council on September 11, 2012, and went into effect on October 10, 2012.
“The ordinance passed by the City of Lancaster is the worst of the worse,” stated Janice Bellucci, President of California RSOL. “It is the only known ordinance in L.A. County that prohibits registrants not only from entering public and private places, but also from being present within 300 feet of those places. This, in effect, prevents registrants from going to the entire downtown area. This ordinance must be stopped.”
In addition to prohibiting registrants from going to or near public and private places, the ordinance restricts to one the number of registrants who may reside in a single family dwelling, multi-family dwelling, or hotel/motel/inn in most circumstances. Further, the ordinance prohibits registrants from decorating their homes and answering the door to children on Halloween.
“California RSOL testified at two City Council meetings and notified the mayor and members of the council that the ordinance violates the state and federal constitutions,” stated Bellucci. “We also informed the Council that the ordinance would not increase public safety for two reasons: (1) few registrants commit a second sex-related offense and (2) most sexual assaults upon children are perpetrated by family members, teachers, coaches and members of the clergy.”
Subsequent to the City’s adoption of the ordinance, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a report in October 2012 stating that only 1.9 percent of registrants commit a second sex-related offense. Copies of that report are available online at www.californiarsol.org.
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