The California Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in two cases, People v. Mosley and In re Taylor, which focus upon residence restrictions adopted in Jessica’s Law which restrict where registered sex offenders (“registered citizens”) may live. The issues argued before the Court are (1) whether residence restrictions are constitutional, (2) whether residence restrictions apply one to registered citizens while on parole and (3) whether residence restrictions may be used as a blanket restriction for all registered citizens while on parole. The Court is expected to decide the cases within 90 days. “A wrong decision by the California Supreme Court could both decrease public safety and increase homelessness for registered citizens and their families,” stated California RSOL President Janice Bellucci.
“The current homeless rate for registered citizens is 9 percent as compared to a statewide average of less than one-half of one percent. The homeless rate could be doubled to 18 percent or more if the Court decides residence restrictions apply to all registered citizens. ” The rate of homelessness for registered citizens tripled to 6,692 after the passage of Jessica’s Law, according to a California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) report issued in 2011. The report noted that there is no evidence to support the reason given for the restrictions, that is, that residence restrictions are effective in reducing sexual offending or making communities safer.
“Residence restrictions provide the public with a false sense of security,” stated California RSOL Vice President Chance Oberstein. “More than 90 percent of those who assault a child are family members, teachers, coaches and clergy, not registered citizens who re-offend at a rate of only 1.8 percent while on parole.”
Jessica’s Law was passed in 2006 as Proposition 83, a statewide ballot initiative. Jessica’s Law allows cities and counties to pass additional residence restrictions. It is expected that the future decisions of the California Supreme Court will affect city and county residence restrictions as well as state residence restrictions.