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CA RSOL CHALLENGES LANCASTER SEX OFFENDER ORDINANCE IN FEDERAL COURT

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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  1. A. Friend

    The Constitution protects all people…not just some…free Americans cannot be forced to give up fundamental rights…restrictions are punishment that violate civil rights on free Americans …there also should be big money lawsuit in place for those civil rights violations…those public personnel were to support and defend the Constitution …not sabotage it.

  2. david

    THANK YOU ca RSOL

  3. Jeff

    According to the Megan’s Law website it is a crime for an individual to discriminate against an rso concerning housing employment credit and a few other things. It seems the cities themselves are breaking the laws. There needs to be huge punitive payouts in these cases to stop the madness. What happens when the private sector follows suit and refuses entry into grocery stores or any store. The governments in these cities that are saying no entry into a library or museum are breaking the law period. There needs to be catastrophic effects to these lawsuits in order to stop the madness. That is the whole purpose of punitive damage, and the damage must be so severe financially to the perpetrators that it really impacts there decision to something so stupid in the future.

    • Tired of hiding

      I totally agree with you on this! Most of the public who
      overwhelmingly vote for these sort of restrictions don’t give two ***** about
      protecting children…what they really want to protect are their property values
      and if you read crap from real estate agents they have made it very clear that
      having sex offenders as a neighbor or even in your neighborhood will lower your
      property values.

      Now…just imagine if they said the same thing about a
      black family
      . No one would stand for it…but it is perfectly fine to
      discriminate against someone who is forced to publicly be branded for the rest
      of their lives as a sex offender. This discrimination is encouraged as is the
      fear and hatred projected toward us by everyone…from the media to politicians!

      I say, sue everyone and really hurt them where
      it counts…the pocketbook!

  4. C

    There’s a museum in Lancaster?
    If only it included the DMV, it would pretty much ban me from any place I could possibly want to go in that town.

  5. USA

    Uh, Im dumbfounded. They still allow Sex Offenders to use public restrooms? The City of Lancaster sounds like Nazi Germany! I mean, who on earth should be banned from visiting parks, libraries, museums and privately owned arcades and movie theaters? Did I just read that correctly? Someone convicted of a crime who has been released from parole/probation is prohibited from going to a movie? What about malls? THere is a Halloween ban as well? This city is clearly the worst of the worst. Its disgusting on how any city could pass such a law? How about the gang members currently residing in their city? Im appalled. We have gang members carrying guns, doing drive by shootings, selling drugs and they have more freedoms than a guy like myself who was convicted of a misdemeanor 17 years ago and receiving summary probation! (the charges have all been since dismissed). So, I commend you for filing this suit. In essence, there is no way in hell that the City of Lancaster can or will prevail with such disturbing laws. These laws clearly violate the rights of those who have been convicted of sex offenses. They are very hateful, discriminating, they create hysteria, fear and the recent study showing a recidivism of 1.9 % substantiates how much thought went into this Disgusting, disturbing and thoughtless law. Im Appalled! Watch out Lancaster, here we come!

    • td777

      Yes, while on parole, sex offenders on parole in California are indeed prohibited from going to movies or to a mall, regardless of their offense or the current crime for which they are serving parole. In fact, at least in Orange County, they are often even told they have to be homeless, as I was told I would have to do. I had to live out of my van for the entire three years I was on parole, which I completed without any violations…well, other than the bogus violation when parole agents tried to claim I had gone out of state in spite of the GPS they had strapped to my leg, which obviously didn’t stick. While I was on parole, I was also denied ever having contact with my daughter, denied the right to go back to college during my first year on parole, and had parole agents often putting me, and others, on blast in front of gang members and other parolees.

  6. Jeff

    Whatever Movie theater’s and arcade’s are supposedly off limits in Lancaster should be invaded by rso’s and then the police should be called and they should do everything in their power to be arrested. The Movie theater could be sued and if it were a huge franchise like Edwards Cinema’s the damages could be a very large amount of money. The ones in charge could be charged with violating the law that protects rso’s from harassment from use of the Megan’s law website. Could you imagine trying to walk into a Walmart and they tell you that you are not allowed. As in most cases the private sector is smarter than the Government. If the private sector companies were to try to do what the Government is trying to do they know that they would be in violation of the law and they would be vulnerable to lawsuits that could cost their companies millions of dollars. The Government thinks it is immune from these laws and the lawsuits. Not only should these cities be sued but the people behind these laws should be arrested and prosecuted for committing a hate crime. That’s right a Hate Crime. By taking part in passing these laws the city council members should be arrested and charged with a hate crime. I guarantee you if the City Council Members voted in an ordinance that said. No Black people or Jews allowed downtown. they would be arrested.

  7. USA

    I concur with Jeffs comments. Im still thinking this is a bad dream. Can you really fathom anyone being arrested for visiting an arcade or movie theatre secondary to a criminal conviction? Im in total and complete shock. What the public isnt aware of is that not every registered sex offender is some person trying to hurt/kill little children or ect! These laws create fear, animosity, anger and outrage. OMG, if the City of Lancaster passes a law preventing these dangerous animals from visiting movie theaters and arcades, they must be dangerous! This is something out of the 60s. I mean, white bathroom and black bathroom.. Maybe all sex offenders should be required to sit at the back of the bus! Yeah, lets enact this law? What is a sex offender exposes themselves or touches a child? Its nuts. I believe in laws, but these are unconstitutional and dangerous! I recommend getting arrested at an arcade or Edwards Cinema?

    • Jeff

      I’m surprised they even let us ride a Bus in Orange County. It is owned by the government. It seems fair game for the D.A. to ban us from.

  8. C

    Yea, use Twitter to get an RSO flash mob going at the Lancaster Edwards multiplex and let me know how it goes.
    If we engaged in civil disobedience and the country saw images of us getting fire hosed and attacked by police dogs a la Selma, Alabama I tend to doubt we’ll evoke the same level of sympathy from the national conscience as those who fought for civil rights back in ’65.
    To get arrested might cost one a third strike and the state will tuck you away in a warehouse at indefinite further pain and suffering to you and your loved ones. It won’t be a cite and release like Martin Sheen at a Sudan protest. We’re not George Clooney and Daryl Hannah.
    And if you still feel some kind of sit-in will help our cause, do you remember that whole Occupy Wall Street thing that spread from city to city to bring awareness about social and economic inequality around the globe? Well, neither does anyone else.
    Let’s support wonderful people like Janice, ACLU and EFF do their thing until the slow wheels of justice right these wrongs.
    One last thought: be an RSO is worse than it ever was to be black, gay, communist or a Nazi, though I am not sure it is much worse than being labeled homophobic, anti-Semitic or racist, all attitudes that not long ago dominated our culture. That in mind, maybe it will be possible to change the collective consciousness toward RSOs one day after all.

    • Joe

      True, true, C. While the wheels of justice are slow, they are churning. Seriously, a year ago, who would have dreamed of the City of Lake Forest repealing their parks ordinance? A panel of judges calling these ordinances unlawful? Cities like Simi Valley and Lancaster being sued in federal court?

      I am most impressed by Janice and her courage and tenacity. But a volunteer is only as good as his / her support. It still costs money to do these things, even if you do not get paid for your time and expenses, like gas and lodging. There are court fees, etc.

      With 100,000 people directly affected, and hundreds of thousands of family members (in)directly affected, I continue to be amazed that funding continues to be an issue for this movement. I am not delusional and realize that times are pretty bad for all and especially for those on the registry. BUT! With the holidays upon us… what better gift to give a loved one, a friend or a buddy, than freedom and Civil Rights? I know I will, this holiday season, forgo buying cheap chinese crap no one really needs and contribute to this cause. Yes, I will give the gift of freedom. With what I have to spare I will make a difference. I challenge all who read this to do likewise.

  9. Joe

    This here is rich:

    http://www.theavtimes.com/2012/12/19/drug-house-raided-across-from-elementary-school/

    This is possibly / probably within the 300 foot buffer zone from the Elementary School.

    The timing is almost comical…. also, the article does not mention the Eye-in-the-Sky crime fighting drone.

  10. USA

    The bottom line is this. No one should be prohibited from visiting a park, visiting a library, beach, movie theater, arcade, public pool or be prohibited from living in a specific/general area. These laws create hatred, fear in the community and are definitely unconstitutional. One of the Judges who overturned the Orange County Law stated is correctly. There would be no way anyone required to register in Orange County could go from city to city and know the laws? Its disturbing. Furthermore, no one should be prohibited from taking part in any Holiday Festivities. Now, can you imagine if these laws stayed in place? Truly. What would be next? Christmas? Your not allowed to go to the mall unless you check in with security? Or, maybe you wouldn’t be allowed to drive or leave your home at certain times? I believe there are cities back East requiring Sex Offenders to notify law enforcement if they are going on vacation or leaving town? Can you imagine? You and your wife might want to take a cruise, but you first need to contact the police? Maybe there might be certain places you can sit in when riding a bus or train? Or, what if you take a flight? Hmmm. As mentioned before, laws are meant to protect, but these are laws that go too far, meant to create hysteria and fear and as so many studies have confirmed, they create more harm than good. We need to continue to move forward and continue to file lawsuits when needed and also create an avenue to allow those sexy offenders that have been registering for forever to eventually get out the registry so they can no longer live in fear!

    • Anonymouse

      Well, brace yourself. If, in the City of Lancaster, there is an arcade in a mall, it is indeed a crime to set foot in said mall. In 15 or 16 states that have adopted the Adam Walsh Act, you have to check in and out with police if absent from your residence for 7 days or more. Any kind of international travel requires 21 days advance notice with a full itinerary. In several states, out-of-staters visiting over a certain amount of time (like 10 days per calendar year) are required to temporarily register with the appropriate PD in that state.

      Have children in school in California? Need permission to enter that school for any reason. That is completely discretionary by school administration and in no way guaranteed. I personally know of one person who did not get permission to drop off / pick up his kid or attend any kind of function or conference.

      Time to show up, stand up and speak up.

      • Joe

        @Anonymouse – I see your school ban and raise you a ‘Senior Citizen Safety Zone’.

        http://montville-ct.patch.com/articles/ct-aclu-looks-to-challenge-town-on-senior-safety-zones

        Hah!

      • DZ

        I did some checking on international travel. Disclaimer*: I am not a lawyer, so don’t hold this as definitive legal advice.

        As of July this year only 15 states are complying with the A-W act and CA doesn’t seem to be one of them.

        http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/justice/adam-walsh-child-protection-and-safety-act.aspx

        CASOMB position on it:
        http://www.casomb.org/docs/Adam%20Walsh%20Position%20Paper.pdf

        This would indicate that if you are a Californian, and leaving the country for travel that no such notification was necessary.

        I was told by my local law enforcement, when questioning them about my registration renewal if I was out of the country at the time, to just let them know and do it before or after whichever was closer to the date. Nothing was said that I had to inform them of intent to travel abroad.

        Should CA ever adopt the Adam Walsh Act, then that could change.

        • mike

          I get confused over these issues like international travel. California has chosen not to abide by the guidelines set up by the federal government under the AWA regarding ‘registration’. That being said, doesn’t the federal governments requirements for travel supersede our states authority for such matters under the supremacy clause? I think we need better clarification on this matter. I would hate to hear about someone on vacation getting brought back to the states by a federal Marshall because the local law enforcement wasn’t familiar with the AWA.

        • DZ

          It is a bit confusing isn’t it.
          Since the language of the law says that the registrant must inform their local LE, and since CA has not adopted the Adam Walsh Act, it doesn’t appear to be any need for reporting foreign travel plans. Some aspects of the AWA apply to RSO on a national level, some aspects are about state level conditions and reporting, and so would only apply to those states that accept it- the act does allow states the power to adopt or opt out of the act, so it shouldn’t fall under the supremacy concept. But who knows how far they’ll stretch it and what they’ll do to someone while they ‘figure out what’s going on’. I know I was harassed for a long time when re-entering the country.

        • Anonymouse

          @DZ – I should also point out that I am not a lawyer. My post was in response to Poster USA who is under the impression that there are cities back east that require registrants to notify LE when going on vacation or taking a cruise. He is painting some Orwellian distant future where such a thing might be required. My whole point was – that is standard procedure – NOT in the future, but NOW; NOT in a few cities, but in 16 whole states in this country – the ones who have so far adopted the AW Act. See here for a list http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/smart/sorna.htm .

          http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/smart/pdfs/SORNAFinalSuppGuidelines01_11_11.pdf
          … In addition, the Guidelines provide that sex offenders must be required to inform their residence jurisdictions about lodging at places away from their residences for seven days or more, regardless of whether that results from domestic or international travel. (p8)
          … registrants must be required to inform their residence jurisdictions of intended travel outside of the United States at least 21 days in advance of such travel. (p8)

          Regarding the AWA and California – not only has CA not adopted the act, but actively stated they were not going to.

          But, pray tell, where does it say that next election 82% of Californians cannot be convinced to vote for some sort of travel notification requirement, just like they did a few weeks ago for internet presence notification? What if some talentless State Legislator decides that is going to be his ticket to glory? What if LE just starts requiring it – who is going to argue?

          What about providing screen names / e-mail addresses all of last year without there actually being a law? “As noted, the registration form can require such information as may be required by DOJ. … Pursuant to that authority, the DOJ started collecting information from registrants in June, 2011, concerning their email addresses and screen names/social networks.” http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/11/27/oppinj.pdf (p9)

          June 2011 – this was going on well before Prop 35 was approved (ever so briefly) on Nov 6, 2012. Who really knew? Who was going to argue? Oh, and if a CA 290 moves to one of those 16 states, they will be subject to these requirements for the rest of their lives (with CA’s lifelong requirement which apparently overrides shorter / misdemeanor registration periods in other states). I find the attitude that it is not a reality here painfully naive and short sighted.

          Again, I am not a legal professional, but you do not have to be as all that stuff is publicly available. I am very grateful for this site and others which offer a wealth of information. This is why the pushback to the likes of the City of Lancaster (to stay on topic) is so important. For registrants or non, for all who value their Civil Rights. It is not (not!) going to get better. Most Germans in the 30/40s claimed they had no idea until it was too late. Education and involvement is key. Otherwise ‘you’ will wake up one day and say ‘well, I never saw that coming…’. And that would be ‘your’ fault.

        • DZ

          Good info.
          Maybe my intent was misunderstood- not saying it’s all roses and ‘not a reality’ here- I have kept up on the steady governmental & societal dismantling of my rights & attempt to reduce me to being less than human. I just wanted to point out that currently, it doesn’t appear a Californian has to inform their local that they are planning foreign travel. Sounds like we’re of like-mind on the whole thing.

          With all the different laws at all the different levels it can be very confusing to know what one is responsible for or not. Plus these laws are constantly changing, fickle actually, since we have a legal system that allows anyone to pass a law, even when it’s clearly illegal or unconstitutional, and it’s then up to the people to present it to a judge to overturn it.

          I completely agree that no one with this burden should feel safe & secure in their ‘current rights’ in this environment.

          As for notifying if gone from residency x number of days, the only thing I noticed in the language states that the registrant has to notify the new jurisdiction, which is not an issue for foreign travel since a foreign country is not bound by CA state law.

          So it would seem foreign travel for Californians is ok- for now. My only point was to stress that for now, for CA, this is still the case- no reason to give them more than the bad laws say we must unless we must. And hope these small towns like Lancaster stop this nonsense before it spreads.

  11. jerry cantalupo

    all these sex offender laws have to be thrown out and we should start all over again we shoud do it maw bwfore we go broke trying to suport the dam thing!where will all the momey come from to support this whold thing that is growing everry year biger anad biger and in 90 persent of the cases the offences are so small that its laughaable and to be hounded the the rest of your life for it is another story!s

    • DZ

      The problem is that it is big business for the few: politicians, police, correctional system, independent contracting such as those making gps devices… these people make a ton of money off of this & get re-elected by being ‘tough on crime’ and ‘protecting children’. You’re absolutely right that the monetary burden on the public is debilitating and all for fighting a problem that isn’t there. The trick is convincing the public at large that this is reality, when they cling to the bogeyman-fear that’s been created to open their wallets & secure their votes. A slow battle.

  12. Danny

    I’m a RSO in Washington State. My supervision ends in September of 2014. After that, I may live wherever I want to, and travel anytime I feel like it. I do not have to tell anyone that I am leaving for a week. I never had a GPS device on me. I successfully completed the Sex Offender Treatment Program, and did well enough that I was called upon to help others. I was even invited to visit the prison and speak to the Community Transition class. Also here in Washington, the Legislature passed a law prohibiting localities from passing their own ordinances concerning where an RSO may live. While on supervision, there are restrictions, but once supervision ends, you are done with those rules. I will be obtaining my passport once I have enough money to do so. I can’t believe the laws that some states have enacted. How about passing some restrictions on these young drug-using/dealing punk kids who are constantly in and out of prison? Sex Offenders are quickly becoming refugees in this country. I will be able to register to vote this year also. I’m 57, so I’ve voted before. My same-sex partner and I are financially okay, and we plan to travel around the country, and perhaps to Europe, flying into a “friendly” country for admittance, then taking trains wherever we want to go. We will avoid states like Texas and Florida. My partner was in prison for a non-sex offense. It is time we work to repeal some of these laws, or else we will become a police state.

  13. mch

    Become a police state? We’re already there my friend. Be on your toes traveling, do your homework and get permission from a consulate before going overseas. Each state has different rules, so be aware of them as you stay in one state or another. Just be careful, low profile, you know the drill. This site is a huge resource, so use it freely, send support as you can.

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