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California RSOL Challenges Santa Ana Ordinance, Registration Process

 California RSOL filed a lawsuit in federal district court on May 2 challenging the sex offender ordinance and sex offender registration process in the City of Santa Ana. The ordinance contains presence restrictions including a prohibition of registrants using the city’s public library. The registration process requires all registrants to register inside the Santa Ana Jail for periods up to four hours as well to wear a prison uniform. Registrants are not allowed to leave during the registration process and are prohibited from using cell phones or any other communications devices during that process.

“The City of Santa Ana is robbing registrants of their constitutional rights,” stated CA RSOL President Janice Bellucci. “Not only are they prohibited from participating in most recreational areas in the city, they are not allowed to acess public information in the city’s library.”

CA RSOL testified in oppositing to the ordinance at a City Council meeting in June 2012 prior to its passage. In addition, CA RSOL wrote letters to the City Council advising them that the proposed ordinance violated both the federal and state constitutions.

“It is indeed unfortunate that the City of Santa Ana failed to heed the warnings provided by CA RSOL,” stated CA RSOL Treasurer Frank Lindsay. He noted that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals declared unconstitutional a similar ordinance in the City of Albuquerque. As a result of that ruling, the City of Albuquerque paid the ACLU more than $1.5 million in attorneys’ fees and costs.

The lawsuit also alleges that the registration process for registrants within the City of Santa Ana violates the 4th amendment of the federal constitution because registrants are falsely imprisoned when placed in the Santa Ana Jail. City officials have stated it is necessary to register sex offenders in the jail because that is where registrants are to be photographed. When registrants are wearing jail uniforms, their photographs are taken and those photographs are later posted on the state’s Megan’s Law website.

“Photos of registrants wearing a prison uniform give the false impression that they are incarcerated,” stated Bellucci. “This blatant disregard for the truth must be stopped.”

There are three plaintiffs in this lawsuit — John Doe, Jane Doe and CA RSOL.

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I register in Anaheim, if they ever go to this ridiculous extreme, I would definitely be making a call to Janice. I am shocked that the city goes this far in the registration process. Does this mean that transient registrants have to go through this same process every 30 days even though photos are only taken once a year?

I hope every registrant in Santa Ana gets on board with this lawsuit.

I register in San Diego County. The process is extremely efficient and the staff treat you with professionalism and respect. The is NO reason Santa Ana and Orange County cannot and should not do the same. The are being extremely punitive and it’s inconceivable to me that the courts will support this conduct.

There is NO reason that any civilized society should ‘register’ its citizens unless they are actively serving punishment for a transgression.

Most don’t. Do you think that i.e. Finland or Argentina does not have the organizational or technical capacity to establish such a registry?

One of the measures of how advanced a society is is how it deals with its criminals.

City officials are lying, plainly and simply, when they claim it is necessary to incarcerate the registrants for that short period of time. They ought to get in touch with the civilized world and find out it is not necessary to go that extreme to process an administrative task. Public workers such as paramedics and firefighters have to be fingerprinted for various reasons. The city has put themselves in the business of imposing a form of civil punishment on the registrants and using the guise of the registration process in order to carry out this injustice. We need the names… Read more »

Santa ana orange county taxpayers on the hook now for millions
a dollars…millions a dollars in attorney’s fees and costs alone…
santa bama orangecrow don’t mess with the Constitution …you
lose BIG time.

Gotta thank the orange county santa ana taxpayers for the attorney’s
fees and costs alone…they’re gonna be HUGE …HUGE.

What? Seriously? Registrants are required to put on a prison uniform and take photos? I’ve never heard of such a thing? Now, I register in Santa Ana on an annual basis, but I’ve never had to do this? I will say this. I have shown up early on a weekday for register and its kind of crazy. I’ve had to wait for maybe 1.5 hour and once 2 hours because someone was on break? Or, the only person capable of doing the process wasn’t there or they were short handed? Is this process for First Time Offenders (initial registration)? If… Read more »

@USA: This is the city of Santa Ana through their city police department. You may be registering through the county Sheriff office, which is relatively benign. If you are a registrant, you can’t check for yourself, but get your family member bring up a search for Santa Ana on the Megans List, and you can see the vast majority of registrants in prison garb.

Insanity. Pure insanity. Our county sheriff’s department is so bogged down by all of the record keeping in regards to maintaining the registry that they’ve streamlined the annual update into a joke: I used to go in, wait in line (forever) for the ‘registry clerk’ to pull my file. I would go in as early as I could so as not to wait in line, it took long enough as it was. They would give me the yellow sheet to fill out in a small room (next to the gun lockers, no less) while waiting. I would fill out the… Read more »

Sue them for clear violation of constitutional rights – Period.

Do not stop until you find a lawyer willing to sue them big time for big $$$

It is time for this sh*t to STOP!

Go get ’em, Janice! Thank you for being a formidable defender of civil and human rights!!!

Alternately, rather than challenge the registration process of being held in jail and in jail uniform, without the option to leave at any time, that approach could instead be cited to PROVE beyond any doubt that the mere act of registration is punitive, and so nothing in the SOR law can be applied retroactively. This is something they keep forgetting when they try to find harsher and harsher and more extreme things to do. Those things end up proving the punitive nature — and even our high court that keeps ruling that red is blue (that is, rules whatever it… Read more »

Wow! I’m glad Long Beach yearly processing is more civil.. granted its a pain trying to schedule an appointment by phone.. (In Long beach, you have to schedule an appointment before you go in..could take months to reach someone by phone).. But the retired detectives that run it seems okay.. They never demean me and nearly treated me like a person.. small talk has they try to get their outdated super digital finger scanner and camera machine to work.. but once it gets to running, its streamline.. I get there super early like 7am, but their office open at 7:30am..… Read more »

I have no doubt an efficient online registration process (with safeguards) could be effectively implemented for most registrants. Furthermore, sending out versifiers to authenticate residency is usually just more unneeded expense Those with a higher risk value could still be seen in person but the idea that every former offender is trying to hide from authorities to work their mischief is without merit. The typical former SO is a law abiding citizen and failed once, not because of a contempt for law but rather more complex issues that they have realized as detrimental not only to their victims but to… Read more »

When I heard about this appalling registration process from a commenter last year on a webpage I was thinking he had greatly over-exaggerated. But then someone else backed his experience up and expanded on it. I couldn’t believe this was legal in the slightest sense in the U.S.A. . I’m very happy to see that this vile and blatantly atrocious act of harassment is being brought to focus in a federal court. There should be a punitive consequence in this case for stripping these human beings of their dignity for something that can be handled with a much simpler and… Read more »

Mike, even your city seems to be a little overzealous. I’ve been registering for over 6 years now and not once has a photo of my vehicle been taken, and the only time I have had to sit with a detective was the first time registering in Anaheim. Also, he shouldn’t be mailing your permanent to your PO, it is supposed to be mailed directly to you.

They took a foto of my vehicle only once when it was brand new. I am pretty sure the cop wanted one just like it and the pics were for reference. 🙂

I know this is an old post, but I had to point out that there are many communities that do not have home mail delivery. P.O. Boxes is the only delivery available. Also, the many homeless registered citizens do not have a physical mailing address. But this is no longer an issue as these registration receipts are no longer required by the DOJ.

First, I don’t think there is a single form or method of registration that does not rob us of our dignity or our rights. Obviously, some jurisdictions are more obvious about it than others. I wear a jacket, blue shirt and conservative tie when I register. I get my hair cut and come in with a very close shave. The state wants to play up the stereotypes and I want to tear them down. Do you remember when Tom Delay went from House Majority Leader to federal prisoner? He worked to make his mug shot look great. He smiled. He… Read more »

when I go in to reg I don’t shower for couple days and wear a cap. In my last visit there were to edger to get rid of me that they even took my pic of my cap covering my eyes.

next time I think I ll get some dead fish and rub them all over my clothes

This is awesome. You have thrown down the gauntlet and I accept your Expedited RSO Processing challenge.

My plan: Salmon for dinner, an onion bagel w/ lox and cream cheese for breakfast.
I shall brush my teeth with scallions dipped in garlic toothpaste – I think Tom’s of Maine makes this yummy flavor.
When registering, I’ll make sure to emphasize my H words. Let’s see if I can get in and out in under 10 minutes.

The parents that convince politicians to pass laws in the the name of injustice to honor their dead children are mostly to blame. When we let emotions such as these guide policy, we end up exactly were we are today…

As much as they have to do with it, it is also the politicians who hate, then foster more fear and hate from the constituents, then put hate into law: that is at the core of the issue. We must put ownership and responsibility directly onto each public servant that is serving up hate as legislation and root out those evildoers. They are not basing their actions on truth, they are basing it on erroneous and exaggerated beliefs and taking that all the way to the bank. It is sickening and disgusting and it must stop. Hate is not a… Read more »

I don’t blame the parents of slain children for a thing except, in some cases, irresponsibly leaving their children alone and exposed to threats. And in such cases I doubt they have the smarts to convince politicians of anything. Opportunistic politicians go out and court these families to pass these laws which become bullets on their resumes and touted when they run for re-election. Considering how much I love my kids I shudder at the notion of losing them and grimace at the thought of the pain these parents endure. You are absolutely right that we cannot let emotions dictate… Read more »

Found a good quote that sums it up:

“Anger should be especially kept down in punishing, because he who comes to punishment in wrath will never hold that middle course which lies between the too much and the too little. It is also true that it would be desirable that they who hold the office of Judges should be like the laws, which approach punishment not in a spirit of anger but in one of equity.”
― Johannes Voet, Dutch Judge, 1680-1713

Maybe we all need to go to Santa Ana and flood their jails and tie up their system…. they are only helping our cause… they are all prideful and we all know this type of pride creates distruction and downfall… God’s Blessings to all RSO….we are on the path to success, thank you Janice you are awesome!!!

In Torrane, registrants must make an appointment with the detective you’re assigned to. The armed detective takes you to an interrogation room where they fill out the paperwork, making you verbalize every answer.

After the paperwork is copied, the detective escorts you into the jail, through a warren of cells, to do fingerprints and take your picture in the booking area.

For the time one is there, one feels under arrest and under their thumb.

Thank you for the information regarding the Torrance registration process. We will add them to the list of cities that need to be sued. Unfortunately, the list is a very long list.

The above comment and this lawsuit reminded me of a comment I read on another blog regarding this very city. I finally found it again… copied and pasted below – with source (hope that is ok). I cannot vouch for its accuracy but given the comment above, this lawsuit and the fact that most registrants on the Megans Law for the City of Santa Ana (remember you may be prohibited from access) are dressed in what appears to be prison garb I see no reason not to believe it. Compare and contrast this with testimony by then Government Attorney John… Read more »

Wow…powerful stuff. I was unaware of the letter myself. Sounds like a guy who could give excellent testimony.

By the way…once we have a sex offender case at SCOTUS, we should scour through Smith v. Doe for all of Roberts’ arguments as the attorney arguing for the registry. The “Price Club” application analogy should be used at key points in the arguments, particularly if Roberts himself, now the Chief Justice, asks a question, and of course make reference to as much of Roberts’ own arguments as possible at other points.

We would like to speak to “John Smith” regarding his experiences in Santa Ana. If anyone knows of him, please ask him to contact me directly by calling (805) 896-7854. Thank you.

I think legislators ought to hear John Smith’s story before voting on AB 702. There are some in Sacramento who believe that registration is just a 10 minute process of filling out a few papers and getting your picture taken.

Maybe it’s time SCOTUS gets introduced to logic on this; Justice Roberts take notes please…. ATTENTION SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: 1. Filling out an application at Price Club is entirely voluntary. Registration is required, not voluntary. The requirement of an individual to register is usually stated during sentencing, alongside their time to be incarcerated or perform community service. Any act one is required to perform as a result of conviction is, in fact, punishment. 2. Filling out an application at Price Club does not ask for personal information such as where you frequent(even if church or a friend’s… Read more »

Obviously,You put a lot of effort into your letter/post and it looks very good. You convinced me! Now, let’s just hope all your time and effort doesn’t go to waste.

I am going to cut and paste this, you’ve said everything that I would have but more succinctly and to the point. Very well done.

I will add that if someone obtains a record clearance via 1203.4 as I did, but they still have to register, THAT is MOST DEFINITELY punishment. I’m registering for a conviction that no longer exists. Justice my foot!

Honestly, I didn’t put that much thought into it, I just wrote about my own experience and observation. I think almost any one of us could write as many or more logical points about why the registry is punishment.

The culture we have inherited demands a boy to be whipped. We suffer under many sins and are called to task by politics, religion, medicine… Go on, name one place where we are free. I dare you. Recently, the idea of “how you are” has gained traction as a Right…that is, if you are a black, that being as it is cannot be held specifically against you in the arena of civil affairs. So we see a bill proposing that pedophilia is a fundamental tenant of human psychology, and as a fundamental should be regarded as a civil qualification and… Read more »

Just wow.. I didn’t know how different processing is within the cities O_o

td777, What I am shocked about is that no one in the city of Santa Ana complained! Several months ago, when we looked at that city’s Megan’s list, every single registrant were wearing a jail uniform, and found out that they were basically locked in a cell until released. I just couldn’t fathom why not one registrant or family member complained. And the proof is right there!, on the website. If the registrant was still on parole, I could understand some what, but they couldn’t all be on parole. It is such an outrage. I hope the city of Santa… Read more »

Even if they were on parole, that’s just taking it too far. In Anaheim, cadets handle registration and it usually takes 30-60 minutes for the whole process, which I still think is too long. The worst we had it was one female cadet who would announce loudly at the window “Oh, you’re here to register as a sex offender?” so anyone in the lobby could hear and then expected us to sign the bottom of the form before she would fill in any information. Fortunately, she only lasted a few months and I haven’t seen her since. My hope…Santa Ana… Read more »

I used to live in Santa Ana and thought their system was extremely abusive. I didn’t have to wear a prison uniform, but everything else was true. The first time I registered there, I was referred from one place to another, then another, then when I finally got to the right place, they said they had just closed. I had to come back another day, and then they made me wait forever and go into an interview room to answer a bunch of questions about my previous crime and have an in-person interview with the police officer who handles Santa… Read more »

AK, please contact Janice and see if you can be added as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Santa Ana should pay for everyone they’ve done this to, even if that person has since moved out of the city! You are a victim of their vicious process and should be recognized as such.

Wow! Fortunately I don’t live in California but I watch what happens in the state because the nation usually follows California’s lead on matters like this. My quarterly registration process is simple and quick. I contact the local sex crimes detective to schedule a date and time. I show up and she prepares the paperwork online that I electronically sign. I’m usually in and out in ten minutes or less. I have always been treated with dignity and respect. In fact, one detective has comment to me how useless the system really is. He told me that it justified the… Read more »

eKeith, I am in sympathy with you on all your comments except, “I think they border on public humiliation.” I disagree with you. Many of the laws are designed and enforced precisely to exact pain and enact public humiliation. Witness the lawn signs recently publicized in Florida. Why do you think television news people show up on the porch and try to ask you insulting questions while a camera is running? How about car license plates marking the one driving (who might not be the registrant) as a RSO? Some states print it on your driver’s license too. And, because… Read more »

I’ve read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner several times after my conviction. I’m having to wear that dead albatross around my neck, this 290 registration, and it keeps getting more smelly and more humiliating, but unlike the bird in the poem, it never falls off. The story is often portrayed as a moral allegory about harming innocent creatures. It is strange, though, that the crew of vigilantes who put the bird around the offender’s neck and made him keep it on, never received any reward, ended up all dying, in the dead sea that they had help to create,… Read more »

If all of this registration, restricted access to community services and facilities, and plastering your photo and address on the internet for everyone to see (and target you) was available in 1937, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that HITLER would have gladly used it on the Jews. This is just more of the same – state organized hatred. Also, if society still thinks that all sex offenders are likely to recommit then they should be protesting for the CDCR to take more steps towards rehabilitation instead of warehousing. I did 18 years (straight) and was never even… Read more »

Fortunately, I register in Anaheim as a transient(yes, that means 13 times a year…and they say it’s not punitive!). I registered this morning in fact…in and out in about 20 minutes. Santa Ana should be held fully accountable for this. Does anyone know if Santa Ana is still doing this since the lawsuit was filed?

What’s the latest on the Santa Ana suit? I assume it had to do with RSOs, even those NOT on probation or parole, being taken down into their jail (A de facto in custody setting, as you could not just leave anytime you wanted) for the registration process. Which, from the time you got there, took 2-3 hours most times. Not to mention that they MADE you dress in jail clothing (a top anyway), as if you were in custody, to have you picture taken. That was bad enough, but you couldn’t even wear a tee-shirt under it and had… Read more »

I have had to register in Santa Ana, since moving to the City in 2000. Everything that is said here about their overbearing methods is true on my experience. I am considered a low-risk offender and my misdemeanor case has been dismissed years ago. Up until last year they used to send 2 to 4 police officers to my house every four months, in between my Registration date. The said they were checking up on me to see if I really lived there. Sometimes they were quick and easy about it and other times they were real pricks about it.… Read more »

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