Officials in Placer County, California, are up in arms and complaining mightily that a 66-year-old registrant who has been designated a Sexually Violent Predator is about to be released in that county.
Never mind that he was convicted more than 30 years ago and has completed many years of treatment. Never mind that experts have determined he no longer poses a current risk.
Instead of relying upon these facts, Placer County officials and other government representatives are crying “not in my back yard”, otherwise known as NIMBY. And they appear to believe that the louder they shout NIMBY, the less likely the registrant will be released in that county.
Perhaps that’s true. But if it is true, it raises the question of where should he live?
Two additional counties – Kern and Santa Cruz – are also being considered for his release. And what will happen if he is released in one of those two counties? Chances are we will hear NIMBY shouted in those locations.
The NIMBY cry we are hearing now in Placer County is a cry we have heard before. Just last month the mayor and about a dozen residents in the city of Fairfield, California, protested with signs outside the home where registrants on parole reside.
It is a home by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), a state agency not known to be friendly to registrants. It is also a home that requires registrants to live by a strict code of conduct. And don’t forget every registrant who lives there must wear a GPS device that tracks their movements 24/7.
We also recently heard a loud cry of NIMBY in San Diego County where a group of parents and residents demanded that the school board lobby for residency restrictions. The restrictions they demanded would, in effect, prohibit all registrants from living in that community.
Then there is the federal appellate court that upheld an existing residency restriction of 6,500 feet in a small town in Wisconsin. This court ruling will ensure the town that registrants cannot live there.
The overriding question for all registrants, whether on supervision or beyond, is where should they live? The only options appear to be living in the community, staying in custody for the rest of their lives or being killed. The first option, of course, is the only rational choice. The second option would significantly increase already bloated prison populations. And the third option is not humane.
It’s time to look at the facts. The rate of re-offense for individuals required to register is extremely low. Registrants on parole have a re-offense rate of less than one percent, according to CDCR. And the federal government has determined that registrants who are no longer on supervision have a re-offense rate of about 5 percent. Compare those facts to the fact that about 95 percent of people who sexually abuse children are not on the registry, but instead are teachers, coaches, clergy, and family members.
Given these facts, one could conclude that registrants make good neighbors and keep your children safe. Perhaps the best cry should be IMBY (in my backyard), not NIMBY.