The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), not know as an ally of registered citizens, took an important step in the right direction on March 26 by declaring that they will apply the recent Taylor decision statewide. In the Taylor decision, the California Supreme Court ruled it is unconstitutional for CDCR to levy residency restrictions against all registered citizens on parole as a blanket condition. Also in that decision, the Court provided CDCR with discretion to levy residency restrictions on a case-by-case basis.
CDCR’s decision to apply the Court’s decision statewide could benefit thousands of registered citizens if and only if they exercise their discretion wisely. That is, if they levy residency restrictions only on those who pose a current danger to public safety. That category could include those who have “recently” committed violent offenses and are not yet rehabilitated. The category should not include those who have committed non-contact offenses, such as public indecency and sexting.
The media has expressed great interest in CDCR’s decision, including articles in the Los Angeles Times and interviews on both Fox TV and National Public Radio (NPR) stations. There will even be a one-hour panel discussion regarding this decision broadcast on KCRW, an NPR station, on March 30.
Thus far, the media attention has been balanced in large part and even favoring the rights of registered citizens in small part. The media has chosen wisely to focus on the facts related to residency restrictions such as the significant increase in the homelessness rate of registered citizens since the passage of Jessica’s Law and the resulting decrease in public safety.
We are encouraged by CDCR’s decision and the media coverage of that decision as well as by decisions of Riverside County and the City of Downey toward repeal of their existing residency restrictions. It is important to note that residency restrictions in those communities apply not only to parolees but to all registered citizens.
If more cities and counties follow the example set by Riverside County and the City of Downey, there will be no need for a series of lawsuits challenging residency restriction. If, however, the example set by Riverside County and the City of Downey is not followed, there will be a need for many lawsuits. California RSOL and similar organizations are preparing to meet that challenge if necessary.
– Janice Bellucci
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