The Senate Public Safety Committee conducted a hearing on June 30 during which it considered Senate Bill 54 (SB 54). The bill, if passed, would (1) overturn a recent CA Supreme Court decision that declared blanket residency restrictions for registered citizens on parole to be unconstitutional and (2) prevent most registered citizens from obtaining judicial relief from those restrictions.
The bill would not, as described by Senator Runner’s staff, break a stalemate created by the CA Supreme Court, and prevent 5 to 10 years of litigation. Instead, the bill would create litigation throughout the state of California.
Testimony at the June 30 hearing included opposition from 15 people including representatives of the CA Sex Offender Management Board, the Public Defenders Association, ACLU, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and California Reform Sex Offender Laws. By comparison, the only testimony in support of the bill came from one organization — Crime Victims United — a non-profit financed by a prison guards union.
Following the testimony, Chairwoman Loni Hancock stated her opposition to the bill and encouraged the bill’s author, Senator Sharon Runner, to meet with the Sex Offender Management Board which opposes residency restrictions, in general, and SB 54, in particular. Senators Mark Leno and Carol Liu joined Hancock in opposing the bill.
The remaining Democratic members of the Committee – Bill Monning and Steven Glazer — abstained from voting on SB 54. Prior to abstaining, Monning noted that if the bill passed, registered citizens would require an attorney in order to seek judicial relief. Glazer’s abstention may have been based on the fact that he has been a senator for less than a month and a member of the Public Safety Committee for even less time.
The only committee members who voted in favor of SB 54 were Senators Anderson and Stone, the two Republican members of that committee. In order to obtain the committee’s approval and move on to the floor of the Senate, SB 54 needed four “aye” votes. It received only two. This led to the following headline in one daily newspaper: “Senate Panel Kills Runners Sex Offender Residency Bill.”
Why then did a different newspaper publish the headline, “Bill to Revive Restrictions on Sex Offender Housing Stalls?” The answer is that Senator Runner requested the possibility of a second hearing on SB 54, a request that was granted – with a condition. Senator Runner must revise SB 54 and the Senate Public Safety Committee must conduct a hearing on the revised bill no later than July 14, the date of its last hearing this year.
In order to put the final nails in the coffin of SB 54, California RSOL will send a new letter to members of the Public Safety Committee asking them to oppose this bill. Please send your letter as well as make one more set of phone calls to the members of the Public Safety Committee no later than July 13. Also please attend and/or testify at the committee hearing on July 14.
Once again, it’s time to Show Up – Stand Up – Speak Up. For if you do these simple tasks, we shall overcome not someday, but on July 14.
— by Janice Bellucci
Read all of Janice’s Journal
Hearing Vide0 / Audio (June 30, Senate Public Safety Committee, 2nd item on the agenda)
—– Sample Letter to the Committee ———
[note note_color=”#ededed” radius=”2″]
Senator *Senator Name*, Member
Senate Public Safety Committee
State Capitol Building, Room *Room #*
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Senator *Senator Name*:
I am writing in strong opposition to Senate Bill (SB) 54 which failed to pass the Senate Public Safety Committee during a hearing on June 30, but was granted a rehearing which may be held on July 14.
During the June 30 hearing, the author of the bill and/or her staff made false or misleading statements regarding SB 54. For example, they stated that SB 54 would only require residency restrictions to be levied against “the worst of the worst” sex offenders. The fact is that SB 54 would require more than 90 percent of those currently required to register as sex offenders to comply with residency restrictions.
In addition, they made statements that SB 54 would make it easier for a sex offender to obtain judicial relief from residency restrictions. The fact is that SB 54 would significantly reduce a judge’s discretion and make it virtually impossible for an individual to obtain judicial relief because he would be required to prove there is a “pervasive lack of compliant housing” in the county in which he resides. That requirement alone would cost the individual thousands of dollars to hire both a lawyer as well as a subject matter expert.
Further, they made statements during the hearing that SB 54 would resolve a “stalemate” caused by the recent CA Supreme Court decision, In re Taylor, and prevent 5 to 10 years of litigation. The fact is that if SB 54 becomes law, it will spawn lawsuits throughout the state of California challenging both its residency restrictions and limitations on judicial relief.
Finally, residency restrictions such as those included in SB 54 do not achieve the worthy goal of protecting children from sexual assaults. The fact is that the California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB), the states’ experts on sex offender policy opposes residency restrictions because they create homelessness and transience among registered sex offenders and are the single most problematic aspect of sex offender management policy in California. In addition, CASOMB Vice-Chair Tom Tobin testified during the June 30 hearing that CASOMB is opposed to SB 54.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. For the reasons stated above I request that you and all members of the Senate Public Safety Committee vote “no” on SB 54.
*your name here*[/note]
Senate Public Safety Committee Members (Addresses under ‘Contact’ tab on each web site)