This week Jessica's Law, which was designed to keep convicted sex offenders from living near parks or schools, is coming under review by the California Supreme Court.
The law severely restricts where sexual offenders can live after they are released from prison. Those convicted of rape or child molestation or even misdemeanor indecent exposure cannot live within 2,000 feet of a school or a park under its provisions.
The state Supreme Court is looking at the cases of four ex-convicts as it considers whether the residency restriction contained in Proposition 83 is so broad and intrusive that it violates the constitutional rights of registered sex offenders, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
In a nutshell the problem is that under the law many sex offenders cannot find housing in urban areas across the state and often are forced into homelessness.
As a result, many registered sex offenders take to the streets, risk violating parole and ultimately up back behind bars.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, however, defends Prop 83, along with the with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The SJ Mercury news article points out that for years now, Jessica's Law has been openly questioned for its effectiveness, even in the law enforcement community, and also for its legality.
Outside of California, more than 20 states have adopted similar provisions, with courts taking a mixed view of whether they pass legal muster.
Critics have said residency restrictions were counterproductive, particularly because of a surge in registered sex offenders declaring themselves transients, making it more difficult to track their whereabouts.
- CA Sen. George Runner, principal sponsor of Proposition 83 (Modesto Bee)
- Sex Offenders and Sex Offenses: Overview (FindLaw)
- Residency Restrictions for Sex Offenders (FindLaw)
- Sex Offender Registry (provided by McAfee & McAfee)
- Frequently Asked Questions about Sex Offenses (provided by Cates, Hanson, Sargeant and Rakestraw, PLC)