When “Jessica’s Law” [the “Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act”] was originally sent successfully through the California legislature in 2006, its consequences for registered sex offenders were felt statewide. In particular, demanding restrictions were placed on where registered sex offenders can maintain a residency. While this movement was meant to prevent persons convicted of sex crimes involving children from being near them at school, parks, and playgrounds, what it effectually meant was that anyone on the California sex offender registry, whether their crime involved children or not, had a difficult time finding an affordable place to live that fit within the geographical restrictions of the law (2,000 feet from any place where children can be found to gather).
Last month, however, marked the California Supreme Court’s decision that such rules are unconstitutional. Although the case was specific to San Diego County, the decision sets a precedent for other counties in the state. Now, the portion of Jessica’s Law that pertains to residency restrictions will only pertain to offenders who have committed a crime directly related to children. According to the new rule, parole officers will have the power to determine whether or not restrictions should be placed on an individual offender. This is good news for many ‘sex offenders’ who have been forced to register simply because they were arrested for public urination or some other minor offense. However, debate amongst members of the public continues and various counties in the state will soon have to determine how they will respond to this new precedent.