California Supreme Court Strikes Down Certain Jessica’s Law Provisions
California Supreme Court Strikes Down Certain Jessica’s Law Provisions .
On March 2, 2015, the California Supreme Court decided In re Taylor, and declared the residency restrictions for registered sex offenders under the Jessica’s Law unconstitutional – but only as to the way San Diego County courts applied the law.
Because this case addresses only San Diego County, it does not change overall California law. However, it may very well violate the constitutional right to equal protection for San Diego to apply the law differently from other counties that are similarly situated.
Jessica’s Law is the state law passed by the voters years ago that requires that registered sex offenders must live no closer than 200 yards from a school, park, or playground.
The law has been challenged several times since it was passed. In fact, Jessica’s Law has generally been applied only to parolees, who have a very difficult time complying with Jessica’s Law due to the lack of affordable housing available generally to convicted sex offenders. In fact, there is virtually no affordable housing that is the required distance from parks, playgrounds and schools.
As a result, many convicted sex offenders on parole became homeless. Homeless sex offenders register every 30 days, giving the local police and of course the Parole office their general location.
The court as well as commentators noted that the purpose for sex offender registration was to be able to know the location, the address of sex offenders. Since at least in San Diego (and probably in many other urban or expensive counties in California), the law was forcing sex offenders to be homeless in order to comply, the entire purpose of the law is defeated. If an offender is homeless, he may very well spend his days sleeping in public parks since he has to be somewhere during the day. That would put the homeless sex offender in the very places where children play, defeating the very purpose of the law.
Plus, when an offender is homeless, law enforcement cannot locate him readily—even the offender has no idea where he will be each day!
This “defect” in the sex offender registration law should have been obvious. California has some of the highest prices of housing in the USA. Sex offenders wear the modern “Scarlet Letter” whether their offense was very dangerous or predatory such as a rape or forcible child molest or instead was downloading child porn off the internet where the offender never left his own apartment!
The sex offender registration system makes sense in theory, but as even people who commit sexually based misdemeanors are forced to register, convicted offenders lose jobs and housing and are more likely to become homeless since no one wants a sex offender in the neighborhood. This makes the population more likely to resort to further crime and become even more dangerous to society.