By Dennis Romero
They are the most loathed convicts on the planet. Even other criminals hate them. Cities in recent years have targeted them with laws that limit where and when they can be certain places, particularly on Halloween, when children are out.
But ex-sex offenders do have rights. At least that's the contention of a group called California Reform Sex Offender Laws.
It's at it again, taking the SoCal city of Carson to federal court.
The group says rules adopted by Carson in 2008 violate the constitutional rights of convicts who have paid their debts to society by serving sentences.
The organization has been suing municipalities (Carson is fourth city to sued in four weeks) that it says violate the rights of sex offenders.
Carson's law, like that of other towns, prohibits such convicts of coming within 300 feet of schools, parks, libraries, swimming pools, and bus stops.
California Reform Sex Offender Laws states:
The Carson ordinance is based upon two myths: (1) that registered citizens have a high rate of re-offense and (2) that strangers commit sexual assaults. The true rates of re-offense, according to state and federal government reports, are 1.9 percent for registrants on parole and 5.3 percent for registrants overall. More than 90 percent of sexual assaults upon children are committed not by strangers but by family members, teachers, coaches and clergy.
The group won similar cases at the California Court of Appeals level and has warned 70 cities in the state that their local ordinances limiting the movement of sex offenders are illegal under the precedents sent by the appeals panels.
Group attorney Chance Oberstein:
The presence restrictions within the Carson ordinance are inconsistent with recent decisions of the California Court of Appeals which invalidated two ordinances - one by the City of Irvine and the other by the County of Orange - as being preempted by existing state law.
Some cities reversed their laws and others agreed to put them on hold, the organization says, but Carson, after negotiations with California Reform Sex Offender Laws, stuck to its guns. The group's president, Janice Bellucci, says:
Future legal challenges by sex offenders can be expected of cities that have failed to either repeal their sex offender ordinances or agree in writing to stay enforcement of those ordinances.