In a much anticipated announcement last week, California officials announced that they would end enforcement of a component of a strict California law prohibiting where registered sex offenders are allowed to live. The announcement - made last Thursday, March 26th - focuses on Jessica's Law, also known as the Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act.
Jessica's Law was passed in 2006 by an overwhelming 70% of California voters. The key component being relaxed by California officials limits where registered offenders are permitted to live. Below is more information about the living restrictions and how lawmakers will be loosening enforcement:
- Officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) have decided to no longer enforce the Jessica's Law provision that prohibits all registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or location where children gather, such as a park.
- CDCR made the decision to limit enforcement of the living restriction following a California Supreme Court case that rules the law unconstitutional in early March.
- Enforcement will only be loosened for certain offenders whose crimes did not involve children under 14.
- CDCR will continue oversight of all registered sex offenders and will assess parolees and registered individuals to determine appropriate living restrictions.
Officials have stated that the decision to relax enforcement of Jessica's Law was driven by the California Supreme Court decision on March 2nd, which found it unconstitutional on the basis that the harsh living restrictions impacted all offenders' right to be fee of unreasonable and oppressive oversight by the government, regardless of the nature of their offense.
The case in which the decision was handed down involved sex offenders in San Diego who claimed the restriction severely limited their ability to find places to live. In a follow-up study by the CDCR, officials noted that since Jessica's Law took effect, homelessness among registered sex offenders increased by 24 times.
While officials have made the decision to relax Jessica's Law, there is still no denying the fact that individuals accused of sex crimes face harsh prosecutions and some of the most severe penalties and consequences, including mandatory sex offender registration.