The Senate Public Safety Committee today stopped Senate Bill 853, which if passed, would have significantly increased the duration of criminal protective orders up to an individual’s lifetime. The Senators voted after hearing from more than 40 people opposed to the bill, including representatives of the ACLU, California Public Defenders and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. By comparison, only 8 people spoke in favor of the bill.
“ACSOL and its members are to be commended for stopping a bill that would have violated the rights of registrants and prevented them for successfully reintegrating society, in general, and their families, in particular,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.
During the hearing, Senator Nancy Skinner, who chairs the committee, stated that it was important for the Committee to “balance the rights of everyone,” including victims and registrants. She stated doing so was a challenge similar to “threading a needle.” Senator Skinner provided the author of the bill, Senator Melissa Hurtado, an opportunity to amend the bill so that it would apply only to registrants assigned to Tier 3 under the Tiered Registry Law. Senator Hurtado stated she would not accept the amendment because it would not protect enough victims.
Also during the hearing, Senator Scott Wiener stated that he would be able to support SB 853 if it were limited to to individuals assigned to Tier 3. However, he added that the bill in its current form was “a step too far.” Senator John Moorlach noted the large number of people who spoke in opposition to the bill and wondered whether the bill would pass constitutional muster. Senator Moorlach stated he regretted that, as an Orange County Supervisor, he supported presence restrictions adopted in that county which prohibited registrants from visiting public places such as parks, beaches and libraries. Those restrictions were later ruled as unconstitutional by state and federal courts.
Those speaking in favor of SB 853 included Tim Ward, Tulare County District Attorney, who stated that the bill was necessary in order to provide “basic peace of mind” to the victims of sexual abuse. Others speaking in support of the bill included representatives from the California Police Chiefs Association, the Alameda County District Attorney, and State Sheriffs Association.
Prior to the vote, Senator Hurtado stated that if the bill was stopped by the Senate Public Safety Committee, she would introduce a new bill during the next legislative session.