You don’t have to live in Riverside in order to have a strong opinion concerning the Board of Supervisors plan to change the way that registered sex offenders are treated in that county. In Riverside, the current law was created out of a reaction to one sex offender (a child molester) petitioning to live in a halfway house very close to an elementary school. If the proposal passes, some similar restrictions will be lifted.
To be fair, there is an ongoing debate concerning the sex offender registry, and not just in California, but nationwide. According to Steve Blow (“We can do better on sex offender laws”) , the movement began with worried parents and law enforcement officials. Police officers, and rightly so, thought it would be a good idea (and an easy sell to the public) to make sure that they knew the locations of sex offenders, especially those who had committed offenses against children. This action seemed reasonable to most folks.
However, when parents and others wanted access to that information, things may have gotten a bit out of hand. Now, Blow says, at least in his home state of Texas, there are any number of offenses that could land you a spot on the sex offender registry, even public urination. Blow and others ask whether it isn’t time to take another look at sex offender registry laws.
Perhaps the most convincing of Blow’s arguments is that sex offender registries don’t work and its costing taxpayers a bundle (in California, Blow reports that $24 million is necessary each year for the sex offender registry to remain up and running). It may be time to renew the discussion about sex offender registry (CA Penal Code 290 and ‘Megan’s Law’).