California takes new approach to sex offender housing restrictions

Ineffective and restrictive housing prohibitions under Jessica’s Law are loosening in California.

In late March, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation attempted to address the problem of homelessness among convicted sex offenders by stating they will no longer impose strict restrictions on housing for all sex offenders. The unlikely shift is a welcome change from the increasingly harsh sentences associated with sex crimes throughout the country.

Registration as a sex offender can bring significant consequences, including extreme difficulty in finding housing and employment. Under "Jessica's Law," passed in California in 2006, sex offenders are prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of schools and parks. The intent of the law is clear, to keep those convicted of sexual offenses against children away from the opportunity to commit future offenses.

The law applies to all convicted offenders, regardless of the charges. That has translated into many homeless people on parole who were never even accused of crimes against minors. In fact, there are very few high-risk child sex offenders endangering children. Numerous academic studies have shown that sex registration laws have little to no effect on protecting children, but are highly effective at creating homeless and unemployable parolees.

The California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's shift on sex offender housing restrictions is welcome to many offenders who simply want to live as normal a life as possible after serving time in prison. Under the new policy, parole officers will be able to examine a convicted offender's history to determine the possibility of the parolee committing a sex crime against a minor.

Sex offenses still carry significant hardships beyond time served

Few crimes carry as much stigma as sex offenses. People accused of a sex crime, whether it is rape, sexual assault, possession of child pornography or indecent exposure, are often viewed as guilty by the public before ever getting a chance to state their case before a jury. For those convicted, the consequences last far beyond time served (although sex crimes do carry steep prison sentences).

If you have been charged with a sex crime, your entire life is on the line. You require a strong defense, not just to avoid imprisonment, but to clear your name. You need a rigorous defense to prevent being publicly branded for life as a sex offender.

At Garcia, Schnayerson & Thompson, our attorneys are experienced at providing vigorous representation for criminal defendants. With so much at stake, it is vital to protect your rights and your good name. Contact our office to discuss your current situation and legal options.

Keywords: Sex offenses, criminal convictions, sex offender registry, California Department of Corrections.