New Laws For California Sex Offenders

February 4th, 2010
Logo in favor of Jessica's Law.

Logo in favor of Jessica's Law.

A new ruling by the California Supreme Court may make it very difficult for registered sexual offenders to find housing. The “residency restrictions” ruling states that sexual offenders cannot live within 2,000 feet of parks, schools, or any other location where children regularly assemble.

The Court’s decision is based on Jessica’s Law – a law that got started in Florida in 2005. Jessica’s Law is named after Jessica Lunsford, a young girl who was raped and murdered by a John Couey. During Couey’s trial, the public discovered that he had a prior conviction as a sexual offender. People were incensed that a previous offender had been set free and was able to commit this heinous crime.

Lawmakers reacted by creating Jessica’s Law, which was intended to ensure that nothing like the Jessica Lunsford tragedy could ever happen again. The law officially passed in 2006, allowing newly convicted offenders to be subjected to residency restrictions.

California’s highest Court turned in a 5 to 2 decision in favor of residency restrictions for sexual offenders who were convicted before the existence of Jessica’s Law. The Court also heard from four registered offenders who opposed this ruling. The four claimed that the law is unfair, and that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for previous offenders to find housing.

One of the arguments against residency restrictions is that sexual offenses cover a wide array of crimes. Two of the offenders who participated in the California Supreme Court hearing were convicted of acts that did not involve assaulting children. The Court, however, determined that their ruling was the best way to protect children and prevent parolees from committing additional crimes.

Others who oppose the Court’s ruling claim that it may actually put children in danger. Their argument is that the law will force offenders to become homeless, which could in turn lead to them committing more crimes. Opponents believe that society will be safer if offenders have a permanent residence … where they can be easily monitored.

Those who favor residency restrictions suggest that the law will create a safer society, especially for children. There are nearly 7,000 paroled offenders in California who are actively tracked with GPS devices. These devices help parole agents monitor how close the offender is to any school, daycare center or park.

The debate about residency restrictions is not likely to end anytime soon. Offenders are allowed to challenge the ruling, if they claim that it makes finding a residence impossible. Opponents of the ruling are likely to try to revive the case in the hopes of having the decision overturned.

For now, however, sexual offenders in California will face residency restrictions. This is a topic that affects people all over the United States. If you are concerned about the possibility of sexual offenders living near your home or children’s school, you can get the information you need to help keep your family safe. A Sex Offender Search allows you to look for offenders in your city, and will show you their names, addresses, physical descriptions and more.

So what do you think? Is this ruling fair? Should there be another option for previous offenders? Leave us a comment to share your thoughts, and thank you for reading the PeopleFinders People Search blog.

Read about what may be done with sexual offenders in America.

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