Tuesday, January 8, 2013

CA - State Supreme Court to hear Jessica's Law challenge

Original Article

01/03/2013

By Kelly Davis

Today, more than two years after declining to rule on a law restricting where paroled sex offenders can live, the California Supreme Court agreed to again hear the case.

Passed by voters in November 2006, Jessica's Law includes a provision that bars parolees who've committed a sexual offense from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. A challenge over the residency restriction's constitutionality and to whom the Jessica's Law applies made its way up to the Supreme Court in 2010. The court declined to rule on the residency restriction portion of the law, instead asking local courts to conduct evidentiary hearings.

Those hearings took place in San Diego in January 2011, where an attorney argued that the restrictions were vague and overly broad and left offenders with few housing options. A crime analyst for the D.A.'s office, for instance, testified that less than a quarter of all residential parcels in San Diego County are in compliant areas, while only 2.9 percent of multi-family parcels—apartments, mobile-home parks—comply with the law. As a result of the lack of affordable housing options, homelessness among sex offenders statewide skyrocketed—by 5,700 percent between 2007 and August 2011.

In February 2011, Superior Court Judge Michael Wellington ruled that the residency restrictions were indeed unconstitutional; the state appealed. Last September, an appeals court sided with Wellington (PDF), noting that the blanket application of residency restrictions "constitutes arbitrary and oppressive official action" and "imposes a substantially more burdensome infringement on constitutional rights than is necessary to protect children from sex crimes." As it was before Jessica's Law, the court's ruling said, there's nothing preventing parole officers from applying a residency restriction as an individual condition of parole.

In late October, the state Attorney General's office appealed that ruling, kicking the case up to the Supreme Court.


1 comment :

NJ45143112 said...

Some people may say that the residency restrictions were a good idea that went wrong...
I would suggest that these were a bad idea that had no place else to go...
Residency restrictions should, indeed, be at the discretion of the probation officer based on offense, threat potential and a host of other considerations that simply aren't in place at this time...
This house of cards is surely crumbling and will grow even more unstable as the Constitution regains it's authority in the courts. It lost a lot of ground over the last century as new amendments and interpretations worked to subvert the spirit that this document embodied. But the legislature went too far...
Sure, children need protection...
Sure, child porn is a bane on society...
Sure, something should be done to correct the ills of society...
But you can't fix a problem but outlawing humanity and human rights!
Now that our government is attempting to do just that (much like other totalitarian regimes), "We the people" is starting to regain some meaning...
Most people can't even quote the Preamble let alone any actual lines from the Constitution these days. It's a moldy piece of old parchment that gets mentioned in text books (the idea of parchment is lost when you consider that the 'text' books are probably digital by now)...
So how can anybody remember what the document means?
"One nation under God..."
That should give many a clue if they have even an ounce (or "mustard seed") of faith in them...
Perhaps this is the time of change that the Aztecs foresaw...
I know it's a stretch but while the world isn't ending, maybe it's time we started thinking and noticing that there are people around us. And, not JUST people, but fellow members of a society...
Society can't exist without community. If we all simply shut out our neighbors and live our lives through the computer, then how can society survive?
Something to think about...