Sex Offenders Banned from Beaches, County Parks

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 11, 2011 9:48 AM

As stories hit of newly-released sex offenders finding new victims, cities and states across the country are legislating the movement of sex offenders to keep them away from vulnerable children.

In the latest of these ordinances, Orange County sex offenders will no longer be permitted in public parks, beaches, harbors and zoos without prior approval.

If they fail to obey the new ordinance after May 5th, they will face a $500 fine or six months in jail.

The Orange County sex offender ban is not new--according to the Los Angeles Times both South Carolina and Illinois passed similar laws last year.

California also already has in place a law requiring registered sex offenders whose victims were under 14 to stay away from parks and schools.

As a society, we owe it to our children and vulnerable populations to protect them from potentially harmful persons and situations. The Orange County sex offender ban attempts to fulfill this duty.

However, the majority of sex crimes involving children are perpetrated by family members and acquaintances--not strangers in public spaces, reports the Los Angeles Times. The Orange County sex offender ban does not take this into consideration.

Because the ban is so expansive and involves public spaces, it also raises some constitutional questions that courts across the country continue to consider.

The Orange County sex offender ban specifically raises questions of ex-post facto law, liberty rights, equal protection, and the First Amendment.

Expect these questions to make their way into a California courtroom soon.

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