CA relaxes Jessica’s Law requirements for some convicted sex offenders

California officials recently announced that residency restrictions established under Jessica’s Law will no longer apply to every convicted sex offender.

People who have been convicted of sexual offenses in Roseville usually face life-changing consequences. Even after serving time, these people often must register as sex offenders and live with monitoring and various restrictions. These measures often have lasting adverse impacts on convicted offenders. Fortunately, California officials have recently eased the restrictions that some convicted sex offenders face.

Unintended consequences

Back in 2006, California voters passed Jessica's Law, which placed various restrictions on people listed on the sex offender registry. According to The Los Angeles Times, the law prevented all offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks. The law also required offenders to wear GPS devices for monitoring purposes.

These requirements had many unanticipated and undesirable effects on convicted offenders. These people were often forced to move to remote or industrial areas, since they were unable to live in suburban areas. The geographic restrictions also prevented some convicted offenders from accessing needed support and other resources.

The restrictions might even have led to more offenders living without homes. A 2010 report revealed that homelessness among convicted sex offenders increased 24-fold during the three years after Jessica's Law passed. As of February 2014, about one of every four convicted sex offenders in California was homeless. As a result, many critics contended that the restrictions were unreasonably burdensome to people convicted of sexual offenses.

Reduced restrictions

Recently, the California Supreme Court considered these issues and found that the restrictions violated the rights of convicted offenders. As a result, the court determined that the restrictions were unconstitutional in San Diego County, where the case originated. Following that decision, corrections officials announced that they would change the policy throughout California.

Now, residency restrictions will automatically apply to offenders deemed high-risk. People convicted of crimes involving children under age 14, such as child molestation, also will face automatic restrictions. In all other cases, officials will review each convicted offender's background to determine whether restrictions are appropriate. The factors that they may take into account include:

  • The nature of the offense
  • Any past offenses
  • The person's likelihood of committing future offenses

Other aspects of Jessica's Law, meanwhile, will remain effective for all convicted sex offenders. Those who are homeless must contact their parole officers daily by phone and attend weekly meetings. Furthermore, all offenders must wear GPS monitoring devices, which authorities may use to ensure that offenders are complying with geographic restrictions.

Seeking assistance

The recent ruling marks a step toward more reasonable sanctions for people convicted of sexual offenses. Still, even with these changes effective, many convicted offenders may face overly harsh long-term consequences. As a result, anyone charged with a sex offense in California should consider speaking with a defense attorney. An attorney may be able to offer advice on challenging the charge or reducing the long-term consequences of a conviction.

Keywords: sex crime, sex offense, penalty, registry