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SUPREME COURT DECISION COULD DECREASE PUBLIC SAFETY, INCREASE HOMELESSNESS FOR REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS

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.

Join the discussion

  1. mike

    Was there any indication on which way the judges were leaning towards today

    • GRR

      My sibling was there today and said it went very well for all registrants. Noting the justices were very receptive and on occasions leading the Public Defender to respond in such a way to solidify her case. The justices made up their minds long ago hence the timing/date in hearing the arguments. By the time elections come back around this will all be forgotten.

      Law enforcement believe it or not is backing the registrants on this one. This way they will know where everyone lives (assuming the homelessness rate diminishes), relieves them of the hassles of 30 day registrations and all the while agency’s will retain the same budget. Obviously, it has nothing to do with how the 290 and subsequent laws have ruined so many lives, family’s etc.

      My call: No residency restrictions for anyone and a tiered system by the end of Jan 2016. Why? It now works best for the system. The witch hunt is over here in the golden state.

      The next generation politicians will gain popularity on some new witch hunt; after all our country runs on fear which is generated by our government and patronized by our wonderful elected officials. Do any of you remember the bomb shelters in your neighborhoods? Nothing has changed.

      This was a great day for all registrants. Keep your heads high.

      “Icing over the pain knowing you don’t belong”
      “Maybe today we can put the past away my friends and step back from the ledge”

  2. CA

    so if you were never on parole, and your conviction and release date were years before Jessicas Law. then this decision doesn’t apply correct?

  3. mk

    I have no idea what the court will decide.
    But my gut will say they will apply it to all 290 registrants.
    Its what *everyone* wants.
    all of us pretty much KNOW that the residency restrictions and all the other bs wont do anything to help the offenses against children.New offenses will happen (as much as I wish that wouldnt happen)
    I hope it does not go this way, but I hold zero hope anymore.
    My hubby does not matter, I dont matter and anyone associated with a 290 registrant does not matter.

    Until someone with some *power* kid/spouse/good friend* gets hit with this……..MAYBE then it will change. Until then?
    I dont know.
    Im just tired.

    • JBRes

      MK- Correct, we don’t know. But look at the AG and government’s argument. They are trying to make it as narrow as possible and apply it only to parolees after 2006 for a reason: It’s too close to punishment even by the perverse standards of “California courts.” They know that a blanket residency restriction is not likely to survive legal scrutiny, and then all of it falls apart. Judges across the state have issued stays to parolees on restrictions prior to this decision because it is onerous.

      And on the chance that it is ruled applicable to all, then it is an excellent case to finally bring a registry as punishment challenge. Imagine a misdemeanor registrant on a non-child charge, offense free for 10 or 20 years even before 2006 passage having to move now from near a park. A court likely could not rule it non punitive. This state having 290 for life is different then many other states with reasonable 10 year removals that do have registry restrictions. You get reasonable tiered removals or restrictions, not both under the non-punishment loop hole.

      The Supreme court, while Baxter is still seated, wants to salvage restrictions for at least parolees without all of it being tossed out. They would like it for every 290, but not at the expense of losing it for at least their “core focus of hatred.” All of this of course being most unfair.

      After all, Prop 35 was just struck, so maybe some hope.

  4. Timmr

    I wish I could have been there to hear if anyone challenged the fallacious findings on which Jessicas Law was based, that former sex offenders have a high rate of re-offense. It’s offensive to me that you can get a law passed through lying.

    • j

      Runner’s legacy. How anyone could be proud of this abomination disguised as a law will remain a mystery.

    • Q

      Fear sells. It facilitates more government control of individuals lives and lessens the rights of the average person. Just read the headlines of any newspaper. Fear is used across the board for everything from drone strikes targeting women and children to carbon taxes for a natural occurrence (global warming). If these residency restrictions are not ruled unconstitutional it will give the sex police more fuel to add to their already fallacious reasoning for even more unconstitutional acts spawned from their un-american minds.

  5. CA

    In 2010 the California Supreme Court said “the residency restrictions apply to RSOs who were released on PAROLE after Jessicas Law passed. Also in 2007, Doe vs Schwarzenegger a federal district court said if you were convicted and released before Jessicas law, the residency restriction does not apply.

  6. CA

    SO IT DOES NOT APPLY TO ALL RSOs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Praying Mom

    Lets stay positive and not give up. Nothing is Impossible. Seems like there was a good outcome in what was said to the Supreme Court. Continue to pray and have faith. Thank you Janice and Chance.

    Is there anyway we can write letters to the Supreme Court and flood them our concerns? a lot was said today I am sure. I just wonder if we can do this.

    God Bless

  8. David

    I attended this afternoon’s oral arguments presented to the Court. It appears that the Court has quite a lot of lot of information on Jessica’s Law and how residency restrictions were actually counter-effective and made communities less safe rather than more safe. In fact, all attorneys on both sides of the arguments seem to agree residency restrictions were ineffective and counterproductive. The State’s very own Assistant Attorney General arguing in “Mosley” seemed to agree!
    During the arguments, the Justice’s questions were intelligent, insightful and humane, so don’t give up hope. Their questions seemed to indicate that they understood the absurdity of blanket residency restrictions on all RSOs. In fact, they questioned one attorney on exactly what he thought they should do with such a flawed law. He argued that it was up to the legislators to fix it, not the court. (Which seems patently absurd since part of the court system’s role has always been to nullify bad laws.)
    It was great to be able to attend the arguments and see our California Supreme Court in action. Now lets just hope for some positive rulings in our favor. (I suspected the Court is aware that if they rule too narrowly on these cases, they will just be putting themselves in the position of hearing more residency restiction cases in the future.)

    • MM

      I was there too and agree!

    • G4Change

      David: THANK YOU for this summary of what you heard today. Awesome post…thank you!
      Thanks also to Janice, Chance, et al for their continued dedication to these matters.

  9. CA

    They already said in 2010 re EJ, it applies retroactively, but only to people released on parole on or after November 8th 2006!!!! am I missing something here????
    so if you were never PAROLED and your conviction and release date predicated November 8th 2006, the residency issue does not apply.

    • Ira Ellman

      Yes, you are misreading EJ. It did NOT say that the restrictions applied only to those on parole. The court was quite explicit in saying that they were not deciding that question. So in fact the California Supreme Court has never ruled on the scope of the residency restrictions (and for this issue–the meaning of a Calif statute, the California Supreme Court is the final authority, not any federal court).

      That said, having seen the oral argument in both Taylor and Mosely, I feel very hopeful confident that there will be a favorable decision on those cases.

      • CA

        If the residency restrictions apply [possibly], to all registrants in ca, then why was it codified in the penal code related to parolees being released from prison? and if the federal ruling in 2007 doe vs. swarzenegger, does not count, then why did the federal district provide a ruling? and correct me if I am wrong, but how does a state court have power over a federal court? doe vs swarzenegger 2007 and re EJ 2010, both ruled accordingly because EX POST FACTO, or RETROACTIVITY ARE NOT ALLOWED! SO AGAIN I SAY THIS RULING ONLY APPLIES TO PEOPLE CONVICTED AFTER NOV 8 2006, AND FOR PAROLEES RELEASED FROM PRISON FOR ANY CRIME IF THEY ALREADY ARE A RSO!!! THEY CANNOT APPLY THE RESIDENCY LAWS TO EVERY RSO BECAUSE IT WOULD VIOLATE THE EX POST FACTO LAW IN THE FEDERAL AND STATE CONSTITUTION

  10. David

    Quite right, G4Change: Big thanks to Janice, Chance, et al for their diligent efforts on our behalf!!

  11. mk

    The whole point of this for me is…….why apply it to ANYONE?? Those on parole usually couldnt afford to find a place to live on their own (ok, generalization there) and those off parole may have a bit better luck, but likely not a whole lot better. Residency restrictions shouldnt apply to anyone on parole or off, before 2006 or after.

  12. Double AA

    I am a RSO that lives in LA County. The sex crime I was convicted of is not a crime in over 30 states. I was sentenced to a 2 year prison term. I was a part of the AB 109 realignment. I did one year in state prison and I did a year of probation. A part of my conditions for probation/parole was not living 100 yards from a school or park. I currently live 1400 feet away from a school. I was terminated from probation in September. Should I be concerned about being in violation of Jessica’s Law?

    I don’t understand why my conditions allowed me to live over 300 feet from a school or park? When I signed my paperwork in prison I was so concerned and stressed about housing because it clearly stated that I needed to live 2000 feet away from areas in which children congregate. I guess I was lucky. I hope I don’t have to move.

  13. Michael

    Well, regardless if any or all of Jessica’s Law is in place, if you are on parole, can’t residence restriction be part of your parole conditions anyway?

    • A

      Residency restrictions are a significant part of a 290 parolees’ conditions. In most cases, mandatory. I have witnessed a number of parolees being displaced by this specific condition of parole. The containment model allows SO’s to gather for meetings once a week. In the group I attend, there are roughly a dozen 290’s or less, depending on whom may have technically violated. Out of the dozen, there are about 2 or 3 that are “transient” so as to comply with these specific conditions.

  14. b

    How long after oral arguments are finished can we anticipate the ruling? As I recall, it is usually several months. Also, was there a press conference afterwards? Is there a press release?

    • G4Change

      b,

      The article says “within 90 days,” but hopefully it will be sooner than later.

  15. Michael

    Is there a video posted of the RSOL news conference after the court hearing?
    If so, can someone post a link to it?

  16. Pam

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the Mosley case was a registry as punishment challenge. In fact, my husband was not convicted of a crime that mandates registration, yet the judge sentenced him to register anyway, which, if the Mosley decision comes down as we hope, would be a violation of Cunningham,etc., as it would decide that registration is indeed punishment beyond the mandated sentence. We have been waiting for this case to be heard for years. My husband’s lawyer filed a writ 2 years ago, and the Superior Ct. judge originally denied it “without prejudice,” stating that when the Mosley decision came down the writ could be re-filed. My husband’s lawyer decided to push for a decision, yay or nay, so that we could either rejoice or move ahead to the appellate level. The judge then asked for additional information, and 2 supplements have been filed to the original writ. Clearly this judge is just letting it sit on his desk until Mosley has been decided. So, I think this issue is more than just residency restrictions. I think it will recognize the fact that registration is a lifetime of punishment in many ways. I’m looking forward to your comments. Thanks.

  17. JBCal

    Pam:

    The Mosley appellate case in 2010 did rule by 3-0 that residency restrictions in this case did increase the punishment. However they did clearly state that Registration is not in question here. Specifically, in the opinion they state: “We leave the substance of the sex offender registration scheme untouched.” … “We hold only that imposing the residency restriction through discretionary sex offender registration as part of the sentencing on the underlying offense increases the penalty for that offense beyond the statutory maximum.”

    So at this appellate level, residency restriction is not warranted, but discretionary registration remains in tact. Regardless, this will be superseded by the Supreme court decision around Mar 2, 2015.

    This reasoning and rationale will most likely be the basis that residency restrictions will not be applied to all Cal registrants.

    • Harry

      “…residency restrictions in this case did increase the punishment.”. Increase punishment from what? Registration? This look like that registration is now labeled as punishment from the court?

  18. Pam

    JB Cal,
    Thanks for your response. Actually, after writing that last post, I thought about it more, and clearly residency restrictions do move registration from regulatory to punishment, so I can see why the court is focusing on this, but even without the residency restrictions, registration is still punitive in many ways that, of course, everyone here is aware of. I’m wondering if the court will consider the fact that the Mosley case was briefed before all the subsequent statutes were passed that enhance criminal penalties for SOs, such as Prop 46, AB109, Chelsea’s law, Prop 36, Prop 47. What do you think?

  19. JBCal

    Pam- The registry is punishment and recent actions/props are getting very close to tipping it for a court review I imagine. At the same time that’s likely why Prop 35 was struck and also should point to a somewhat registrant positive ruling on res restrictions from the Cal supreme court. Ironically, wishing for a blanket application of Jessica’s law may be better long run because that could cause the whole registry to get questioned/reviewed. Hence not likely to be upheld ~Mar 2nd.

    The only possible argument post 2003 Doe v. Smith for California now is the CASOMB report saying offense free registrants after 17 years are not at greater risk of offending and therefore there is no counter reasoning of public safety over privacy for this “sub-set.” The ‘for life part’ is hard to argue now that we know so much more post 2003.

    Good luck on that though. The US Supreme court hasn’t even definitively addressed gay marriage yet.

  20. vahall

    I was also present at the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in LA. I had been guardedly optimistic about the outcomes, until a colleague reminded me that this court — including Justice Liu — gave us that big fat turkey Doe v Harris. (https://all4consolaws.org/2013/07/doe-vs-harris-decision/#comment-25096).

    Wonder if it’s positive, or negative, that this was the final case Justice Baxter heard?

    Fingers, eyes, toes and other things crossed.

    • JBCal

      vahall- The Cal supreme court should have the Johnson v DOJ S209167 decision around Feb 3rd (Hofsheier review) and this will give a current view/take the court has on Registrants. I attended that session and it appeared Hofsheier/registrant positive.

      Within the first 3 months of 2015 we will have 3 Supreme court decisions and a Tiered bill introduced which should give us a good indication of the current direction and sentiment for registrants.

  21. Pedro

    I really appreciate all of you who understand,this hopefully encouraging information. In addition I appreciate all your time and efforts. I have been dealing with this for 33 years and look forward to the tiered bill possibilities as well as all of us being removed from this torturous and despicable registry. The lunacy of placing children as young as 8 years old on this registry, is heart felt sadness. Gods Blessing to all and I continually pray for everyone’s freedom.

  22. mike

    I would realy like to know why the ACLU was not involved in these cases as serious as they are to the rights of rso and everyone else in America. If the court rules in favor of residency restrictions then tens of thousands of people will be forced to move not to mention the fact the local goverment will have free rein to enact any residency restrictions they want. It will be an endless barrage of new ordinances.

  23. David

    Mike – The ACLU, like any non-profit, has limited resources and staff: they can’t fight every injustice – they need to focus on the most significant ones.
    In the very unlikely event that the California Supreme Court were to rule that ALL RSOs were subject to these residency restrictions, THEN it seems to me that the ACLU would have a very big case to take to the U.S. Supreme Court. (These are my thoughts/opinions.)
    In the meantime, I’m thrilled that Gov. Jerry Brown has just sworn in two intelligent new CA Supreme Court associate justices, Kruger and Cuellar. Let’s hope for good, beneficial decisions from the new Court.

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