By Sam Stanton
Sacramento County became the latest governmental entity Wednesday to be sued over an ordinance limiting the movements of registered sex offenders near parks and other public places, but the practical effect of the suit may be negligible.
Attorney Janice Bellucci (Website) filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Sacramento on behalf of _____, a San Luis Obispo man who is a registered sex offender and has sued other municipalities over their ordinances limiting where sex offenders may go in public.
The suit challenges a 2006 county ordinance that forbids offenders from being within 300 feet of schools, parks, video arcades and other areas where children may be present. However, the practical effect of the suit is unclear because of earlier court rulings in Southern California that invalidated similar ordinances.
An appellate court in those cases found that such ordinances are invalid and leaves the state’s Jessica’s Law, passed by voters in 2006, as the main enforcement tool over paroled sex offenders. That measure prevents sex offenders on parole from living within 2,000 feet of schools and parks.
The Orange County district attorney had been pushing for additional local ordinances in Southern California communities, but the appeals court found them invalid. That finding was appealed to the state Supreme Court, which refused to hear the matter.
Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully’s office also provided information to area communities on such ordinances.
“Our goal was to support local ordinances that kept the children of our community safe by restricting registered sex offenders’ presence at parks and public places regularly frequented by children, consistent with the intent of Jessica’s Law and the constitution,” Scully’s office said in an emailed statement. “Unfortunately, our Legislature did not clarify Jessica’s Law with respect to this issue so the responsibility was left to local governments.”
“With the potential of all or most of these ordinances being rescinded in light of the court’s ruling, the Legislature should pass appropriate laws that will complement Jessica’s Law and the intent of California voters and protect our children from easy access by sex offenders.”