California State Senate Bill Would Allow Cities, Counties to Enact Park Bans [UPDATED with Reasons to Oppose]

[See UPDATE below]

State senator Lou Correa of Orange County introduced a bill on February 20 that would allow cities and counties to enact laws that ban registrants from public places such as parks, museums and libraries.  The bill, SB 386, was initially sent to the Senate Rules Committee and is expected to be referred to the Senate Public Safety Committee next week.
 
“The bill, if passed, could allow ordinances, such as the Orange County park ban, to continue,” stated Janice Bellucci, President of California Reform Sex Offender Laws.  “It must be stopped.”
 
There are currently more than 300 sex offender laws passed by cities and counties.  The laws are inconsistent and pose significant challenges to law-abiding registrants who wish to avoid penalties including fines up to $1,000 and jail up to six months or both.  For example, a registrant may lawfully visit a pier in one city, but not in another.
 
“Passage of this law would result in total chaos within the state of California,” stated Bellucci.  “Existing state law is sufficient to ensure public safety.”
 
Many of the existing city and county laws are based upon misinformation such as an alleged high recidivism rate.  The fact is that only 1.9 percent of registrants commit a second sex-related offense, according to a report from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued in October 2012.
 
“These laws also ignore the fact that most sexual assaults upon children are committed not by a registrant but by a person they already know such as a family member, teacher, coach or member of the clergy,” stated Bellucci.  
 
California RSOL recommends that registrants, family members and supporters call or write letters to their state senators stating their opposition to SB 386.  California RSOL will meet with state senators in Sacramento on March 12 to discuss the proposed bill.  Contact information regarding state senators is available online at http://senate.ca.gov/senators.

Bill Information (Language / History)

Update (3/10/2013)

REASONS TO OPPOSE SB 386:

  • Bill would allow cities and counties to pass presence restrictions that prohibit registered sex offenders from going to public parks, beaches, museums and libraries
    • Presence restrictions do not increase public safety
    • Presence restrictions violate the state and federal constitutions
    • Existing presence restrictions in cities and counties have created chaos
    • Current state law adequately safeguards public safety
  • Presence restrictions do not increase public safety
    • Children are sexually assaulted by family members, teachers, coaches and clergy in more than 90 percent of such assaults
    • Registered sex offenders commit a subsequent sex-related offense at a rate of only 1.9 percent
    • Many registered sex offenders have never harmed a child
    • Only 3 percent of sexual assaults occur in public places like parks; most occur in private places like homes, schools and churches
  • Presence restrictions violate state and federal constitutions
    • Denied access to public libraries violates 1st Amendment
    • Denied access to public parks, beaches, etc. violates 14th Amendment
    • Taxation without representation
    • Local law adopted after conviction constitutes ex post facto law
  • Presence restrictions already passed by cities and counties are inconsistent and do not provide registered sex offenders to be law abiding citizens
    • One city allows registrants to use dog park while another city does not
    • One county allows hiking on public trails while another county does not
  • Existing state law provides adequate safeguards against those who present current danger to society
    • CA Penal Code 3053.8 prohibits some registered sex offenders on parole from entering public parks

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http://sd09.senate.ca.gov is her online
you can contact her there as well’

“When a local law is declared preempted by state law, the reason is it violates Article XI, Section 7 of the California constitution which has been interpreted in court to mean that “If otherwise valid local legislation conflicts with state law, it is preempted by such law and is void. A void law is unenforceable.”

And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

What we’re facing is a ‘cowboy’ government that allows the Enforcers a free and heavy hand when it comes to the protection of citizens from abuse. The local policewoman will become Crusader Rabbit when assigned responsibility for the sex offender registry in her local jurisdiction and if you dare to question her self-assigned policies, you are hustled off to the pokey first and obliged to defend yourself later.
It’s a long distance from real-life as an RSO to some question of whether-or-not some local policy is constitutionally enfranchised. You see, they do it first under the rubric of “Protecting The Children”, then adjust later should there be consequences.
Meanwhile…”Think about how you destroyed your victim, you vicious felon…
You sure as hell can’t live in *this* community and you sure as hell don’t want to go to prison! We law-abiding compassionate citizens won’t have the likes of you anywhere near our precious little-ones and if you fight us we’ll imprison you where Bubba will have your heart on a stick for lunch.”
There are rules and regulations, but there is no Law anymore.

This just defies all logic. So by making a misdemeanor law it will stop someone from committing a felony? If someone is hell bent on abducting a child, raping and killing them there is not a law that can be written that will stop it. It’s like putting a piece of foam on the tip of a bullet and saying it will stop the bullet! It seems that to a politician the answer to everything is to make a new law. It’s against the law to kill people yet people are still killing people. There are drugs that are illegal yet people still do drugs. It’s all about their political agenda and getting votes.

If this law passes, then could the Cali courts strike it down on the same principles as the decision in New Jersey that struck residency restrictions on the basis of the state’s Megan’s law pre-empting city ordinances?

New Jersey’s state court in GH v Township of Galloway (2009) [56] ruled they “hold that Cherry Hill Township’s and Galloway Township’s ordinances, establishing residency restrictions that formed buffer zones for convicted sex offenders living within their communities, are precluded by the present, stark language of Megan’s Law. It is that language which controls.” In other words, local ordinances were pre-empted by the state’s Megan’s Law, which had no residency law provisions, which upheld the lower court decision of preemption. The lower court had not considered the constitutional issues raised by the trial courts because of their ruling on the preemption clause [57].

Pennsylvania’s decision in Fross et al. v. County of Allegheny (2010) [58] made a similar preemptive clause ruling to the ruling in New Jersey. In striking Allegheny County’s 2500 foot ordinance, the courts stated “the ordinance appears to attempt to ensure public safety, in certain parts of Allegheny County, by isolating all Megan’s Law registrants in localized penal colonies of sorts, without any consideration of the General Assembly’s policies of rehabilitation and reintegration… The County’s legislative effort in this instance undermines the General Assembly’s policies of rehabilitation, reintegration, and diversion from prison of appropriate offenders, and significantly interferes with the operation of the Sentencing and Parole Codes. For these reasons, we agree with the federal district court that the County’s Ordinance stands as an obstacle to accomplishing the full purposes objectives of the General Assembly and is, therefore, preempted.”

Frank Lindsay and I will meet on March 12 with members of the Senate Public Safety Committee and/or their senior staff to discuss SB 386 and why it would not increase public safety as well as violate the state and/or federal constitutions. We thank you in advance for letters sent and phone calls already made and will have a report for you on March 13 regarding those meetings.