Parents in California became alert when California officials announced that the state would stop enforcing a voter-approved law that prohibits sex offenders from living near schools.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation stated that it would stop enforcing “Jessica’s Law”, where registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school regardless if their crimes involved children.
High-risk sex offenders and those whose crimes involved children under 14 years old will still be kept from living near schools, according to the CDCR. Each parolee, officials said, will be evaluated based on the factors from the specific case.
This comes after nine years when it was first passed. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was joined in the stage by Mark Lunsford and Marc Klaas, fathers of Jessica Lunsford and Polly Klaas who were abducted by sex offenders living near their schools.
Jessica Lunsford was a nine-year old American girl who was abducted and murdered. John Couey, a registered sex offender who lived nearby, kidnapped the child, sexually battered her and murdered her afterwards. Polly Klaas, on the other hand, was a California native who was kidnapped from her mother’s house and was later strangled.
On March 2, the California Supreme Court decided that Jessica’s Law directly violates the constitutional rights of parolees living in San Diego County. Advocates said that parolees found it hard to find housing and left them living on riverbeds and alleys.
According to Luis Patino, CDCR spokesman, “After reviewing the court’s analysis, the state attorney general’s office advised CDCR that applying the blanket mandatory residency restrictions of Jessica’s Law would be found to be unconstitutional in every county.”
Retired Justice Marvin R. Baxter supported the action, stating that apart from housing problems, it prevented parolees from getting medical treatment, drug and alcohol dependency services, psychological counseling and other social services.
Nevertheless, the court did not wholly left the law behind. They said that parole officers can still prohibit sex offenders live in San Diego. But, the limits will be based on individual circumstances. They also used William Taylor as an example. Mr. Taylor was convicted of sexual assault to an adult woman. He has a long rap sheet, but he was never convicted of a sex crime that involved children.
The court came to the decision because it was proven that the residency restrictions did not improve on child safety while breaching parolee’s rights to be free of oppressive government action.