Alex Blaze

Sex offenders in California lose appeal on 2K feet restriction

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 22, 2007 1:20 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: California, schools, sex offender registry, sex offenders

Did you know that sex offenders in California can't live within 2000 feet of a school or park?

I share Samhita at Feministing's skepticism that it'll do anything to prevent recidivism, but I suppose it makes some people feel better. Either way, four registered sex offenders tried to petition the court not to enforce the law, and that petition was just denied. The petitioners' reasoning, from the SF Chronicle:

The four - one from San Francisco, one from Santa Clara County and two from San Diego County - said in their suit that it was irrational to apply the residency restrictions to parolees, like themselves, whose sex crimes did not involve children. They said that virtually all residential areas of their counties were within 2,000 feet of a park or school and that the law would force them to choose between homelessness and prison.

It doesn't seem like a good idea to have a whole bunch of homeless convicted sex offenders around in California. A lot of people on sex offender registries often haven't been convicted of doing anything involving children, like queers caught in public sex stings, teens who tape themselves having sex, or 18-year-old teenagers who are caught having sex with someone slightly younger than they. There's a whole lot more complexity in this than just "sex offender" or "not sex offender", what with people who are nonsexually violent against minors being deemed better suited to live near schools. And even for those sex offenders who are likely to harm children, what about rehabilitation instead of homelessness? I mean, 2000 feet is a lot of distance in city planning, but it's still just half a mile to drive.

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There's an excellent movie on this starring Kevin Bacon called The Woodsman

Applause for discussing this issue in the public eye. Sex offender laws and their consequences are so taboo, especially within the LGBTQ community. We often steer clear for fear of negative association. At the same time, we're implicated in these laws for consensual adult behavior. We've got to be able to stand up for what we believe in without constantly worrying about our "model image." Thanks, again, Alex.


Doesn't Lawrence v. Texas invalidate all of the laws against consensual adult behavior? I guess you still have people on the books who have to obey registry laws, who were convicted pre-Lawrence, but I would think that they have pretty decent grounding to challenge these laws application to them in court.

Not to say that registry laws and the binary 'offender'/'not offender' system isn't fundamentally flawed, and horribly unjust to many people, I'm just wonderng if they still can be legally applied to people for engaging in consensual adult behavior.

Well, they're applied to people who commit consensual, adult sex in public, or whom police officers think will, like Larry Craig had he not pled down the charges. Sure, it's not lawful sex, but it's not like he was molesting children either.

And there are the pre-Lawrence folks still on the books, as you mentioned.

I am glad to see this issue discussed.

I am all for having ANYBODY who can't control their sexual urges being isolated as much from mainstream society as possible.

Could we possibly put these people who can't control their urges into camps in order to protect our children from these monsters.

Susan Robins
The significant other to someone who was abused by these monsters.

Once again, we have a post that addresses this issue, and once again, we trot out a parade of horrible hypotheticals concerning people who are only in an imaginary sex offender registry. Please provide an example of a teenager who taped himself having sex with another teenager and found himself charged, let alone put on a sex offender registry. The argument for sex offender reform would be a lot clearer if people would stick to the facts rather than extreme hypotheticals. You make a decent argument regarding those charged with public indecency (this rarely, but does, happen) or statutory rapists (which usually have limited registration periods that coincide with their probation period). Stick to those.

The vast majority of the Pre-Lawrence convicted that registered (and let's face it, this was a very small number to begin with, since sex offender registries have only become the norm for the past ten years, and not many people were prosecuted for this offense) have had their records expunged, vacated, or they haven't petitioned the court to do so yet.