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Where are sex offenders? Jessica’s Law complicates monitoring

The number of homeless sex offenders has skyrocketed since Jessica’s Law went into effect, and after the recent arrest of two serial killer suspects some experts say the law to protect women and children is backfiring. Unable to live near schools and parks, some registered offenders end up living on the streets, making it difficult for them to find jobs and forcing them into areas where they end up congregating.

Before the residency restrictions brought by Jessica’s Law eight years ago, 88 paroled sex offenders were registered as transient in California. Within five years, that number spiraled to 1,986. Full Article

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  1. Michael

    Before i saw this thred I already posted this in comments. But here it is again. A letter i wrote to the OC Register:

    Dear Editors:

    I read with interest the article about the problems Jessica’s law presents to sex offenders that renders them homeless. What was most interesting was City of Fullerton’s solution as stated at the end of the article.

    With the Sex offender Management Board stating that there is not a bit of evidence that residence restrictions are helpful and, after a hysterical, Chicken-little-like campaign (where they spent hundreds of thousands of tax dollars and hundreds of hours of staff time to promote and defend it. During which he assured one and all it was legally bullet proof), the defeat of the Orange County DA’s parks restriction law. What does the City of Fullerton say they are going to do about it? They are going to double down and create an even more restrictive environment. Amazing.

    One thing that article did not mention was that the state or county has no control over transient registered sex offenders (RSOs) who are not on parole or probation. After their 30 day registration these RSOs are free to go anywhere they will. They do not have to stay in the city they register in like it is some kind of magical prison without walls. And they do not have to register in the same city every 30 days. They just have to show up at some police station, somewhere, every 30 days or less, to register again.

    The take from all of this is that harsh, one-size-fits-all sex offender laws are not beneficial to keeping communities safe. Nor is keeping low level, low risk, one time offenders on the registry, and thus having to “track” them, for life a reasonable use of resources. Many states have tiered registration requirements of 5,10 or 20 years, or life, based on the offense.

    In California It’s time that there was less political posturing and more common sense in dealing with sex offenders.

    • wonderin

      Excellent letter!

    • Q

      Hi Michael:

      I like the chicken little comparison; it fit’s these campaigns so well. I wasn’t aware that homeless registrants were only required to show up at some police station every thirty day’s. I am not homeless, yet was told (not sure if I should believe it) that basically If I moved I’m required to report the move to the department I had been registering at as well as the department in the new area I would be moving to. And if I didn’t do this I would be charged with a felony and likely go to prison. Do you know anything about this?

  2. Q

    This is a good thing this article has been published in such a main stream /lame stream newspaper. Almost 2,000 people homeless because of Jessica’s law is unconscionable; how is it with all the hypocritical Christians in OC that this could be allowed to happen.

    Rosanne Froeberg, assistant district attorney for the office’s sexual assault unit says she is so concerned about public safety; if that is true why does she even support such a useless and wasteful program that leaves the kids of registrants fatherless and without the protection of a complete family?

    If each one of these registrants has 2 children that’s 3,972 children without the protection and security of a complete family. Does this mean Rosanne Froeberg is a misguided insensitive fool? That goes without saying, but more importantly she places faith in an ineffective system that delivers negligible results. Some would go as far as to say a system that flat out doesn’t work.

    Tom Tobin, vice chairman of the California Sex Offender Management Board seems to be a voice of reason, thankfully. I think lawmakers should listen and act on urging of state officials who oversee California’s registrant population and disregard statements by the ignorant and ill informed law and order advocates like the ever obstinate waster of time and $$$$ Tony Rackauckas and his ilk.

    I have to wonder about the apparent mental deficiency of the law and order advocates who consistently disregard the opinions and recommendations of experts and continue to furiously beat on their dead horse, even when the fact’s/truth is staring them in the face! It’s obvious these laws are a waste of time and money, harm far more children than these laws will ever help in 1,000 years, destroy families and destabilize whole communities. Yet these proponents keep up their war dance even after a state appeals court in San Diego called Jessica’s law “unconstitutionally unreasonable.” And then there are the brain dead types like Todd Spitzer, who advocates really beating the already dead horse even more furiously by requiring homeless registrants to check in daily. The county may as well set up some barracks outside all police stations if they want everyone to comply. It don’t get much more stupid than Todd Spitzer. Tony baloney can be the poster dummy for dummyness and Spitzer can can be the poster dummy for stupid. It’s gotta suck living in OC.

    If anyone wonders why I refer to California as the stupid state, just take a look at all the time, effort and resources being spent on a largely non threatening segment of society while the real threats (threats they obviously cant handle) go for the most part unchecked. Pretty stupid and welcome to California.

    • Janice Bellucci

      According to the CA Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB), the rate of homelessness for registered citizens tripled after the passage of Jessica’s Law. That number now exceeds 6,000 people. As the Board concluded, society is less safe rather than more safe after the passage of that law.

      • Q

        6,000! Theoretically that would be 12,000 children growing up without the benefit of a complete family, possibly more. If anyone watched the videos linked to the article in the post “North State Psychotherapist wants changes to Megan’s Law” they would know that this places these children at risk of being victimized. The four men Opra interviewed repeatedly stated that they looked for children that were vulnerable, that had unfulfilled needs. I’m always totally amazed that people like Todd Spitzer, Tony Rackauckas and their kind fail to see or acknowledge the children of registrants and the harm to the family unit, and society in general their laws and ordinances create. This whole thing has grown so large that it’s collapsing under it’s own weight, and some people just flat out refuse to see it. They remind me of Nero playing the fiddle as Rome burned!

        • Tim

          Q, you are right on. Those convicted need to be able to support their children, fir the good of everyone. The government isn’t going to do it. There is always talk of breaking the cycle of violence and making the offender take responsibility for getting his life back together. It’s the right thing ti do. Somehow, the politicians become exempt from responsibility for their actions. Their policies have created a growing homeless population and the collateral damage of poverty and violence. Who do they blame it on? The homeless. How convenient, when most of the politicians are millionaires and can give their kids the best schools and health care. I’m with Pope Francis at least on this one issue: address the problem of a corrupt system, that concentrates wealth and power in the hands of the few.

        • Q

          Hi Tim:

          Your right, registrant’s must be able to support themselves and their families. As far as the registrant taking responsibility and getting his/her life back together, I’m in agreement, as is most of the population; in fact that’s what I want for myself. I took responsibility years ago, now give me back my life. The problem is the people like Tony Rackauckas, Todd Spitzer, and every other misguided proponent of ever increasing and harsher laws and ordinances micro regulating the lives of registrants.

          This is the crux of the problem, yet these vigilantes wearing their veneer of public office and respectability are seemingly unable to see or admit that it’s their quest to bury us alive that is creating all of these problems, for themselves and the already overly oppressed homeless registrant, as well as the public. The mere fact that they ignore the plight of the family unit and all the resulting hardship’s and harm should be a clue to everyone of the motives of these people. And that’s not even considering the cost and manpower being laid out; for nothing.

          They haven’t come close to making a dent in their favorite cause, sexual abuse. I’m still waiting for one individual to step forward with irrefutable proof that the registry, or any of these overly broad and largely ineffective laws have saved them from a sexual assault or prevented a sexual assault. There’s ample evidence that their laws and ordinances don’t come close to working and that the registry is a waste of time and $$$$. I want to see their proof that what they say is true and actually does what they say. So far I’ve seen nothing supporting their claims, and I know it’s because there’s nothing there.

          As the years of this foolishness pile up and my chances for rebuilding a life fade, I believe I have come to understand why men take up arms and fight against tyranny and oppression, or flee in search of freedom. I have a sense that I know some of the thoughts that go through their mind’s.

        • j

          Since the legislature has skillfully crafted a way to impoverish these families, lets see if they have the stones to give them living wage vouchers and pay compensation to the innocent children of registrants who have had their lives unnecessarily shattered.

          That is a conversation they will defer until hell freezes over.

    • B

      Spitzer wants homeless registrants to check in daily? Daily? Honest? Wow. Think of the staff time for that exercise. At least the police will be too busy checking them in daily to do dangerous stuff like arrest gang members or drug dealers.

      • td777

        If those of us who choose to be transient have to check in daily, how would they expect us to keep a job so we can get off the streets? Oh yeah, they don’t want us to have a job…or a home…or a life…

  3. Robert Curtis

    Most of the efforts towards fighting against the sex offender registry should be focused in California. It’s like driving a nail into a coffin hammering on one nail at a time gets more results than hamming on many at once. The 80/20 rule would work if we have to 80% focus on California and 20% elsewhere. An argument can be made against San Antonio for their parks bans of registrants and of course Florida is the worse of the worse. Historically change happens first in the West (California) and moves Eastward.

  4. Rocky

    Transient RSO’s will more than likely be, or remain jobless (not to mention if they are/were pursuing an education) if they had to check in daily.

    Spitzer for the fail.

  5. Erin

    The reaction to any of these stories is emotional, not rational. The sex offender registry does not help society; it harms society, and the ex-offender trying to find work and housing. The more stable the ex-offender’s life, the better off society is. It is the instability in anyone’s life that causes issues that can quickly escalate to a crime, depending on you genetic makeup, social perceptions and subsequent thinking patterns. Alcohol is almost always involved and it is never treated as the root of the problem. Putting someone in jail without treatment, simply forestalls the inevitable. Even though sex offender recidivism is relatively low at 5.3%, successfully dealing with any substance abuse issues halves that 5.3% to under 3%. Shaming and ridiculing an ex-offender for the rest of their life, after the sentence has been served is putting society at a higher risk because of the consequences of the ex-offenders being homeless and unemployed. Much better to have these people working and residing inside during off hours than to have them crawling out of a bush at 5 am. behind you at a bus stop. Unemployment triggers relapse in addictive personalities. Not good for society either. It is time to respond to this growing problem (over 800,000 now in the U.S.), in a positive manner that makes society safer in a very practical way. As long as there is a public website that berates these people and publishes their pictures, society is working against itself, not to mention that 95% of the time and money spent by law enforcement “monitoring or watching those on the list” is a waste of time; an actual crime is happening elsewhere. You can’t make the problem better by hating. If the goal is to change a behavior, it has to be done within the confines of traditional Psychology. Telling someone that they will never get off the registry no matter what they do is hardly an effort to change behavior. “Too many sticks and no carrots” does not change behavior. Just look at the attitudes of 3rd strikers. What else can you do to them, nothing, and they know it.

  6. j

    George Runner ought to be dragged into the legislature to answer to his folly.

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