California RSOL filed a lawsuit in federal district court on May 2 challenging the sex offender ordinance and sex offender registration process in the City of Santa Ana. The ordinance contains presence restrictions including a prohibition of registrants using the city’s public library. The registration process requires all registrants to register inside the Santa Ana Jail for periods up to four hours as well to wear a prison uniform. Registrants are not allowed to leave during the registration process and are prohibited from using cell phones or any other communications devices during that process.
“The City of Santa Ana is robbing registrants of their constitutional rights,” stated CA RSOL President Janice Bellucci. “Not only are they prohibited from participating in most recreational areas in the city, they are not allowed to access public information in the city’s library.”
CA RSOL testified in oppositing to the ordinance at a City Council meeting in June 2012 prior to its passage. In addition, CA RSOL wrote letters to the City Council advising them that the proposed ordinance violated both the federal and state constitutions.
“It is indeed unfortunate that the City of Santa Ana failed to heed the warnings provided by CA RSOL,” stated CA RSOL Treasurer Frank Lindsay. He noted that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals declared unconstitutional a similar ordinance in the City of Albuquerque. As a result of that ruling, the City of Albuquerque paid the ACLU more than $1.5 million in attorneys’ fees and costs.
The lawsuit also alleges that the registration process for registrants within the City of Santa Ana violates the 4th amendment of the federal constitution because registrants are falsely imprisoned when placed in the Santa Ana Jail. City officials have stated it is necessary to register sex offenders in the jail because that is where registrants are to be photographed. When registrants are wearing jail uniforms, their photographs are taken and those photographs are later posted on the state’s Megan’s Law website.
“Photos of registrants wearing a prison uniform give the false impression that they are incarcerated,” stated Bellucci. “This blatant disregard for the truth must be stopped.”
There are three plaintiffs in this lawsuit — John Doe, Jane Doe and CA RSOL.