Panel recommends repealing part of Jessica's Law

November 12, 2010 6:02:58 AM PST
A panel of law enforcement experts has come out against a popular California law. At issue is Jessica's Law, which prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. The panel says it is doing more harm than good and needs to be repealed.

The report says too many sex offenders are now homeless, making it tough to track them. And experts believe when they're homeless, sex offenders are more likely to reoffend.

Even convicted sex offenders understand why Jessica's Law was popular among voters.

"So in theory it sounds good. Why would you want child molesters living right across the street from a school? On the surface it sounds terrible," says Jake Goldenflame.

Goldenflame is a critic of Jessica's Law and doesn't think voters have considered that the law actually creates homeless sex offenders.

"As transients, they can sleep wherever they wish including next door to a school and be there bright and early when the kids show up in the morning," says Goldenflame.

Goldenflame committed his crimes so long ago Jessica's Law doesn't apply to him. Still, he has fought hard against it and is delighted to hear a panel of law enforcement officials agrees it should be repealed.

"It's a breath of fresh air. I'm glad we're taking a look at this," says Goldenflame.

In the report, the panel says, "Homeless sex offenders put the public at risk. These offenders are unstable and more difficult to supervise."

ABC7's legal analyst Dean Johnson agrees.

"Every criminal defense attorney, every prosecutor knows that the most dang sex offenders are those that are homeless," says Johnson.

However, Johnson says this could be tough to change. Even though a law enforcement panel says this doesn't work, it would be a tough sell to voters and legislators.

"There's no politician in the world who wants to get behind a law that looks like it makes the burden lighter on sex offenders. Sex offenders don't vote as a block and they don't have lobbyists," says Johnson.

San Francisco is so dense there is virtually nowhere sex offenders can live. In fact, every sex offender that has been released to San Francisco is homeless. The author of the law is State Sen. George Runner of Lancaster who says he would be willing to reduce the restriction from 2,000 feet for cities like San Francisco, but for most communities Jessica's Law works.


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