A bill which would have allowed cities and counties to adopt sex offender ordinances more restrictive than state laws was voted down by an Assembly committee Tuesday.
Assembly Bill 201, authored by Assemblymen William Brough, Mike Gipson, and Marc Steinorth, would have given localities the ability to enact not only more stringent restrictions on where persons required to register as sex offenders can live, but also “presence restrictions,” which would limit their ability to visit places such as parks, libraries, swimming pools, or arcades.
“In addition to the myriad of other reasons why this bill is probably unconstitutional, the lack of a provision in the bill to provide notice to sex offenders in particular jurisdictions as to what the rules and regulations are in that area also make this bill unconstitutional,” the bill’s analysis reads.
The analysis also found the legislation would “open local jurisdictions to a flood of lawsuits” against presence restrictions, which have historically been successful by focusing on the restrictions’ lack of due process.
Arguments in favor of the measure said that local ordinances were vital “precisely because they are to account for the various conditions unique to their locality.”
Yet opposing arguments said that the bill is based on a number of inaccurate assumptions, including the belief that residency and presence restrictions are effective prevention tools. According to a report by the California Sex Offender Management Board, “No research shows that exclusion zones are helpful in preventing re-offense.”
“If the bill had been passed, it would have resulted in a return to recent chaos when 79 cities had 79 different laws that prohibited individuals from visiting both public and private places,” said Janice Bellucci of California Reform Sex Offender Laws.
“At that time, more than 100,000 citizens were in constant and reasonable fear that they would be arrested, sent to jail for up to one year and fined up to $1,000 for violating a law for which they had no notice because the cities failed to provide signs warning them of those laws,” she added.
Brough, Gipson, and Steinorth did not respond to requests for comment.
Last March, the state Supreme Court ruled that blanket sex offender residency restrictions in San Diego County were unconstitutional, but that offenders could still be subject to restrictions made on a case-by-case basis. In Re Taylor S206143 Cal. 4th 1019 (2015).
Editorial Id: 945480
Publication Date: 01/14/2016