Registered citizens continue to face banishment throughout the land. They are often torn from their families and relegated to the dark corners of society where they sleep in their cars if they are lucky and on the streets if they are not.
Banishment comes in many forms. This commentary is limited to the two most insidious forms – residency restrictions and proximity restrictions. Both limit where a registered citizen may go. Both tear families apart. Neither accomplishes its stated purpose, that is, to increase public safety.
There are a growing number of reports full of empirical evidence carefully gathered by psychologists, law professors and others that demonstrate that the opposite is true. That is, residency and proximity restrictions do not increase public safety; they reduce public safety.
This reality was recently recognized by the justices of the California Supreme Court, not known for their forward thinking or compassion for registered citizens and their families, in the case of In re Taylor. In that case, the Court decided that residency restrictions not only failed to increase public safety but constituted “arbitrary, oppressive and unreasonable curtailment of ‘the core values of unqualified liberty’” provided by the U.S. Constitution.
This decision is important and may provide relief to about 300 registered citizens on parole in San Diego. It is not worthy, however, of the media coverage immediately following the decision which falsely proclaimed that registered citizens are free to live anywhere in the state of California.
The reality of the Court’s decision is that it lacks clarity and is already the source of confusion regarding whether registered citizens who are not on parole or who do not live in San Diego must comply with the state’s residency restrictions. The only way to gain clarity on this issue is to file more lawsuits challenging the same state law as well as laws adopted by cities and counties which are even more restrictive. Doing so will require both time and money as well as brave registered citizens who agree to serve as plaintiffs in the cases.
During the period of time required to challenge residency restrictions, which could amount to five years or more, the suffering of registered citizens and their families will continue. Husbands and wives will be prevented from living with their spouses and children. Sons and daughters will be prevented from living with their parents.
The California Supreme Court could have prevented the continued suffering of registered citizens and their families by issuing a sound decision in another case, People v. Mosley, which they decided on the same day. Instead, the Court ducked entirely the issue of whether residency restrictions are constitutional and if so to whom do they apply. The defendant in that case has requested a rehearing. In order to redeem itself, the Court should grant the rehearing which has the possibility of two positive outcomes – to increase public safety and to end the suffering of registrants and their families.
The California Supreme Court protected the rights of registered citizens in 2014 when it denied review of a state appellate court decision that overturned two local government ordinances which had prohibited registered citizens from visiting public places such as libraries, parks, and beaches as well as private places such as movie theaters, bowling alleys, and fast food restaurants. After this ruling, cities that had adopted similar ordinances were warned that their ordinances could be challenged in court. After this warning, about 50 cities, the smart cities, repealed their ordinances. The 30 cities who weren’t as smart, however, were sued, one as recently as March 11, 2015. Of the cities sued, virtually all have repealed or significantly revised their ordinances by eliminating proximity restrictions.
The dumbest city is Carson, located in Los Angeles County, which was first sued in April 2014 and continues to refuse to repeal or revise its ordinance. The Carson City Council has in fact proclaimed war against registered citizens and declared that they don’t care how much that war costs. They also don’t care how many registered citizens and family members are harmed by the City’s ordinance which has both residency and proximity restrictions. They don’t even care that the courts have ruled that similar ordinances violate the state’s constitution.
The Carson City Council’s proclamation of war against registered citizens as well as their failure to comply with court decisions will be reviewed in Los Angeles Superior Court on June 11, 2015. That will be their Judgment Day.
That could also be a day of great victory for registered citizens in Carson who are allowed to return to their homes and families, allowed to return to the city’s libraries and parks. That could also be a day of ultimate victory for registered citizens throughout the land because it would provide a precedent that could be followed by courts in every state. It is only fitting that such a precedent be established in Los Angeles, the city that created the nation’s first sex offender registry.
– Janice Bellucci
Read all of Janice’s Journal
Janice’s Journal: The March on Carson
California RSOL Leads Successful Protest in Carson
Carson Protest March – Media
City of Carson Charged With Fraud, Breach of Contract
Carson vows to ‘go to war’ to keep sex offender restrictions