California Judge in Jessica's Law Ruling Has Controversial Past

Stop Child Predators has been a consistent proponent of Jessica's Law, in collaboration with it's author Mark Lunsford, after whose daughter it was named. We've been met with consistent success in our efforts to see Jessica's Law passed, although a minor setback was encountered in California in November of 2010. L.A. Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza overturned a provision of Jessica's Law that prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park

A group of sex offenders had recently challenged this provision, citing a difficulty finding housing using those parameters. Judge Espinoza ruled that this measure made huge swaths of the city impossible to live in for registered sex offenders, making it more likely that a larger number of sex offenders would become homeless. Since homeless sex offenders are more difficult to track, Jessica's Law may actually decrease public safety as a result of these housing provisions.

Although the four petitioners, registered sex offenders living in L.A. County, claimed to have had difficulty finding housing, there are still large areas that aren't adjacent to schools or parks. Additionally, it is only a portion of the sex offenders that this law applies to, and restrictions remain in place for so-called "high-risk" offenders, whose crimes were violent or repeated.

While there is still substantial support for the residency restrictions, both from the citizenry and the police department in L.A., it's important to remember that the real focus of Jessica's Law was mandatory sentencing requirements for violent sex offenders, and electronic monitoring upon possible parole. These cornerstones of the referendum have been upheld throughout California and are still in effect there.

In fact, public opinion and legislation have been leaning towards stronger and more effective sentencing with the recent passage of Chelsea's Law in California, which allows for "one-strike," lifetime imprisonment for the most violent sex offenders. SCP president Stacie Rumenap was in California earlier this year in support of Chelsea's law, which was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger on September 9th. The momentum and public feeling in California right now is definitely in favor of a safer society through stricter penalties for violent sex offenders, and Stop Child Predators is continuing to be on the forefront of that fight.