Daily Archives: February 10, 2007

Sex offender reisdency restrictions not retroactive

A federal judge has ruled that California’s Proposition 83, which many experts have called the toughest sex offender law in the nation, does not apply retroactively.

Passed by 70% of voters, Proposition 83 gave California what experts called the toughest sex offender law in the nation. As well as lengthening prison and parole terms for repeat and violent offenders, the measure requires registered sex offenders to wear an electronic tracking device for life.

The most controversial provision bans offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. Proponents said children should not have to pass an offender’s house while walking to school, while foes said the ban would not enhance safety because most sex crimes are committed against victims the perpetrator knows.

The decision can be found here [.pdf file](thanks to Sex Crimes and HowAppealing). One convicted sex offender had the following comment:

“We have already paid the price for our crimes, and this gives us the
freedom to go on with our lives without having to pay for it again,”
said Goldenflame, an author who also runs a website to help former sex
offenders. “I am certainly buoyed by this ruling and hope other judges
follow suit.”

What is of note about him (and I’m sure many others) is that he lives in San Francisco, whose high density means that virtually the entire city would be off-limits to sex offenders. This has been of my biggest concerns about residency restrictions. Eventually all sex offenders will be living either in Montana (oops, wait!) or by highways between towns.

This is not all. The state had made the argument that Prop 83 should be likened to Megan’s law, which has been applied retroactively. The court rejected this argument as well. Another interesting twist:

Still unresolved is another case, pending in federal court in San
Francisco, involving an offender who has lived in the same Bay Area
town for more than 15 years. His lawsuit said he had completed
treatment and has led “a productive and law-abiding life” ever since.
With the passage of Proposition 83, his suit said, he “has effectively
been banished from his community” and from residential areas in
virtually every city in California.

If anyone has any information about that case, please let me know.

Overcriminalization much?

It truly is a sad day when an eight year old second grader is charged with possession of crack cocaine. It would be one thing if the kid was indeed, somehow, buying and selling crack, but by all accounts, this young boy found the crack on his way to school and showed it to some classmates.

The police did their thing, too. They asked questions, investigated and reached this conclusion:

“We interviewed enough people that we’re comfortable with [his] answer,” New Haven police Sgt. Rick Rodriguez said.

The boy is charged with a felony, but police decided to arrest him to ensure he receives services from the court, such as counseling, said Police Chief Francisco Ortiz.

Ah yes, the only way the boy was going to get counseling was to arrest him, bring him to juvenile court and then contact the wonderful Department of Families and Children.

There has to be a better way of achieving that goal, than subjecting this child to even an arrest. Time to rethink the system a bit, methinks.