Less than two weeks into the new year, it’s clear that we have a lot of work to do in the State Capitol. We are already facing a bill that would prohibit all registrants, including parents, from visiting all schools for all reasons as well as the promise of a bill that would end the state’s lifetime registry.
It is understandable that Senator Connie Leyva would introduce a bill (Senate Bill 26) with a zero-tolerance policy toward registrants on school campuses. After all, the district she represents includes the City of Fontana whose school board passed a similar policy a few months ago. School board members there hastily adopted that policy after a heated two-hour discussion in which parents angrily demanded that school board members pass such a policy or face ouster
Senate Bill 26 is a terrible bill and must be stopped! If passed, Senate Bill 26 would harm school children because it would rob them of parental support during academic and athletic events as well as in cases of medical emergencies. Also if passed, the bill would prevent registrants from worshipping at churches that meet on school grounds, attending local government meetings, and even voting.
We cannot let the cancer created by the Fontana Unified School District board to grow and spread statewide. Instead, we must stop Senate Bill 26 by sending letters, making phone calls and attending committee hearings.
It is also understandable that a tiered registry bill will be introduced in order to end the state’s lifetime registry. A coalition of district attorneys, police chiefs and sheriffs has formed to create such a bill that has now been endorsed by the California Sex Offender Management Board.
ACSOL has serious concerns about the draft tiered registry bill created by that coalition. Chief among those concerns is the unbridled discretion given to district attorneys to object to the removal of registrants from the state’s sex offender registry. As currently written, the bill would allow a district attorney to object if he or she believes that “community safety would be significantly enhanced by the person’s continued registration”. Such an objection would result in a costly court hearing and conclude with a decision by a state judge, who is unlikely to rule in favor of registrants because he or she is subject to re-election.
ACSOL is not concerned and in fact is pleased to report that Senator Ricardo Lara has agreed to author the tiered registry bill. As Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Lara has “the right stuff” to get the bill through the Senate. As a publicly announced survivor of sexual assault, Senator Lara also has credibility on this subject.
ACSOL looks forward to working with Senator Lara and staff toward creation of a tiered registry that is based upon empirical evidence. It’s time to topple the state’s lifetime registry during 2017, the year in which that registry marks its 70th anniversary.
Please join us on January 30 and January 31 in Sacramento to share your views on these bills.
It’s time to Stand Up, Show Up and Speak Up!
— by Janice Bellucci
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