‘Child safety zones’ out of bounds?

May 30th, 2012 | By | Category: Sex Offenders, Spotlight

Who else should be banned from public parks? The Homeless, bullies, alcoholics, tobacco users, convicted vandals...

Paco: Pariah laws offend Constitution

Public-Place Laws Tighten Rein on Sex Offenders

By IAN LOVETT | New York Times
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Convicted sex offenders are barred from surfing at the famous pier in this Orange County city.

In nearby Dana Point, they are prohibited from casting a fishing line in the harbor.

And if they wander into a public park in Mission Viejo, they could be shipped back to jail for six months, following the City Council’s vote this year to ban them from a host of places where children congregate.

“We need to protect our kids,” the Orange County district attorney, Tony Rackauckas, had told the Mission Viejo City Council. “The danger is very real.”

Orange County finds itself at the center of a new wave of laws restricting the movement of sex offenders. The county government and a dozen cities here have banned sex offenders from even setting foot in public parks, on beaches and at harbors, rendering almost half the parks in Orange County closed to them. Ten more cities are considering similar legislation.

And Orange County is far from alone. In recent years, communities around the country have gone beyond regulating where sex offenders can live and begun banning them outright from a growing list of public places.

From North Carolina to Washington State, communities have designated swimming pools, parks and school bus stops as “child safety zones,” off limits to some sex offenders. They are barred from libraries in half a dozen Massachusetts cities, and from all public facilities in tiny Huachuca City, Ariz…

The proliferation of such restrictions reflects the continued concerns of parents and lawmakers about potential recidivism among sex offenders. But it has also increasingly raised questions about their effectiveness, as well as their fairness.

Opponents have dismissed “child safety zones” as unenforceable, saying they are designed to make politicians look tough on crime and drive sex offenders from the area, not make children safer…(Full text at New York Times)

Notwithstanding the dearth of sympathy for the plight of the pariahs we call sex offenders, the Bill of Rights contains no exemptions. Therefore, even though the children of Dana Point are undoubtedly safer because 290’s aren’t permitted to fish in the ocean, the prohibition offends our foundational document.

Sadly, a majority appear to find this particular unconstitutional matter a non-issue–It’s OK to deprive sex offenders of their Constitutional Rights.  Paco understands and sympathizes with the sentiment.  Even so, the Constitution either applies to us all or it applies to no one…eventually.

To reiterate Paco’s position on the matter of registered sex offenders:

  • Many sex offenders are not sex offenders at all.  Sex offender rolls include countless offenders who present no threat whatsoever to children or others. Until last week, this included Brian Banks who was falsely accused and convicted of rape a decade ago.  It also includes folks convicted of public urination, public nudity etc.
  • While registration has been held Constitutional, on their face such laws acknowledge and underscore the paucity of sentences for actual child predation and predatory rape.  Which is to say, true predators belong in prison–Registration exists because lawmakers lack the stones to set life terms for lifelong sex offenders.
  • No studies or statistics have ever established sex offenders commit offenses at schools or parks near their residence of record.  Yet, many jurisdictions in the nation bar sex offenders  from residing near those sites, libraries, movie theaters…
  • Gangs are an imminent threat both in public parks and schools–Children are frequently shot at those places, caught in a crossfire.  Where are the signs prohibiting gang members from public parks?

Paco says lock up ACTUAL predatory sex offenders and keep them there.

AND, like it or not, people who have served their time are NOT 2nd class citizens–They are citizens, entitled to the same rights as everyone else.

Barring that, let’s be honest and change the Constitution to sanction a 2nd class of citizen whose rights are forfeit: the Pariah.


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6 Comments to “‘Child safety zones’ out of bounds?”

  1. Alley Cat says:

    I think the term “sex offender” is too broad and vague. We need categories, and not just “high risk” and “moderate risk”.

    Someone who commits a violent sexual assault on an adult or child , or child molestation, should be labeled a “sexual predator”. Not just a “sex offender”. I honestly don’t think they should ever see the light of day outside of prison. Why do we parole them or give them such short sentences is beyond me. They should be kept in a registry for life and monitored very closely. They should not be allowed to travel beyond the limits of their home town. A sign should be place on their lawn letting everyone know who they are. A bullet in the head is the simplest solution really.

    Someone who is 19 and has underage sex with their 16-year-old girlfriend, someone who surprise flashes you in public, or someone who pisses in public shouldn’t get prison time. At most, they should get jail time or a fine. They should not have to register as a “sex offender”, unless they are a consistent and repeat violator. Their first charge should be a misdemeanor. If they don’t learn the first time, it could be upgraded to a felony. I don’t know why we even bother tracking these kinds of people. Waste of state resources.

    I believe there is an entire industry built around looking “tough on crime” and using sex offenders as a boogey-man to get people to shell out their tax dollars.

  2. bulldogger says:

    Try supervising sex offenders and having to deal with all of these laws. Jessica’s law says a parolee cannot live within 2000 feet of a school but PC 3003G says parolees who have a PC 288(child molest) conviction and are ID’d by CDC as being high risk cannot live within a HALF MILE of a school. All of my parolees who fall in this catagory are homeless and they are all predatory and dangerous. These residence restrictions only apply while these people are on parole so it appears that the lawmakers knew they could only make these restrictions to people on parole.

  3. Gadfly says:

    I cannot recall the last time the media reported that a child was abducted from a fishing pier. I do recall that a number of children were taken from the vicinity of their own front yards or snatched from within a bedroom as they slept. I recall that while on patrol, a number of sex offenders were questioned while on traffic stops late at night. The only way my officers knew those motorists were sex offenders was through a computer check of the driver. What are the odds of a beach patrol finding a sex offender casting a line into the water? It is not as if a sex offender is easily spotted in a crowd by his or her criminal behavior. In fact, that is why sex offenders are often successful in abducting and molesting children; because they blend in.

    I believe the system in place to track convicted sex offenders can be effective; however, most District Attorney’s offices are reluctant to prosecute minor violations under PC 290 (g) because of the resources and time involved to successfully prosecute. Cops are documenting and reporting these contacts every day, and violations often do not result in prosecution. From a practical standpoint, the prohibitive sex offender laws are non-enforceable. In other words, they are as effective as Neighborhood Watch signs where all the neighbors are to busy fishing next to the perverts who hang out at the pier.

    It is difficult to gauge the constitutional impact of expanding sex offender laws when there are so many blatant government over-reaches into our basic rights as citizens at present.

  4. Howie Katz says:

    Paco, you have outdone yourself. Your comments are right on target. In many cities across this nation, sex offenders are prohibited from residing within 2,500 feet of any place where children might congregate. That makes it impossible for them to live anywhere within the city. That’s completely unreasonable. While the law prohibits double jeopardy, it apparently does NOT prohibit DOUBLE PUNISHMENT – confinement in prison and punishment after completion of the sentence. While those residence restrictions do little to protect children from sexual predators, they do in fact punish the sex offender.

    Furthermore, you’ve brought up a most interesting point. If we want to protect our children, why are gang members NOT prohibited from public parks?

  5. Bob Walsh says:

    How the hell can you legally bar a citizen from “all public places.” I forsee some serious constitutional issues there.