Repealing restrictions on sex offender living limitations is dangerous for children

In Opinion
(Photo by Katie Albertson)

On Feb. 7th, Fullerton City Council unanimously repealed an unconstitutional ordinance.

The city ordinance, No. 3149, made it a misdemeanor for sex offenders living within 2,000 feet of daycares, schools and parks. The state law the city now defers to will allow any sex offender not on parole or specifically prohibited by the court to live anywhere they wish.

While the repealing of the ordinance is constitutional, it still puts children in more danger.

Unfortunately, because of this repeal, there are now questionably lenient restrictions on where sexual offenders can live once they are off parole. This is something that city council should have been prepared for and ready to fix ever since a 2015 California Supreme Court decision deemed similar restrictions in San Diego as unconstitutional.

Even so, members of the Fullerton City Council are not happy about being forced to repeal this law.

“This is disgusting, obviously. The state courts have decided that communities cannot take further steps to protect its citizens, especially its children,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald at the Feb. 7th Fullerton City Council meeting.

Although Fitzgerald’s reaction is just, she and the other city council members should not have been surprised when a man on the sexual offenders list sued Fullerton for enforcing the unconstitutional restriction that he claims made him homeless.

While it is problematic that the individual could not find a home due to his sexual offender status, the settlement should not have ended up with offenders being allowed easier opportunities to strike again.

On one hand, the state law may be more understanding because of the relatively thin line of rules that someone can be put on the list if crossed.

People are put on the sex offenders list for indecent exposure, which includes relatively harmless things like public urination or having sex in a car.

But when one looks specifically at the 94 registered sex offenders in Fullerton, the overwhelming majority of them have committed “lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age,” according to the California Megan’s Law Website, negating any sympathetic excuse one may have.

There are probably some people on this list who have learned their lessons and don’t plan to harm anyone else, but the risk of allowing sex offenders to live out their perverse daydreams across the street from an elementary school is too high.

Council members knew they were being sued and even had a lawyer tell them that they would probably have to repeal the law, so one would’ve hoped that city council had been working diligently before it was officially repealed in order to rectify this situation.

“We would be interested in moving in a direction of securing more protection if we thought it was legally possible,” said Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker.

Anyone can see that all this red tape would make it harder to create and pass a sufficient law, but Fullerton’s City Council were members voted into office so that they could protect their constituents–even if they have to be creative about how they do it.

Whitaker said that no city council member has come to him with any initiative in terms of addressing the “back-and-forth” legal situation or the costs involved in creating a new protection or restriction law.

Fullerton needs a new law as soon as possible that cannot be deemed unconstitutional under California law and simultaneously protect its citizens.

If the law that was in place was creating homeless sex offenders, then that undermines public safety since they have no means of reporting where they are living.

So, this is a chance for city council to pass an even better law for its people.

It’s going to be harder to protect people and children if cities are not allowed to limit where these dangerous people can live and the only barrier is members of city council that should come up with a better law that serves the public justly, rather than complaining about its dangers.

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14 commentsOn Repealing restrictions on sex offender living limitations is dangerous for children

  • The most dangerous power a legislature can impose upon citizens is their ability to make up a danger and then pass laws to alleviate the danger.

    There has never been even one reoffense by a registered offender anywhere that could be tied to a distance living condition from a school or park.

    But you can assert the lie and pass laws upon that lie the community will be more protected. As long as the community believes there is protection any evidence otherwise is discarded.

    It isn’t dangerouness of offenders driving these laws, but property values. It is totally ignored the evidence that residency restrictions increase reoffense rates by leaving offensders isolated from support systems. Protecting children is not a goal of these laws. Protecting property values is.

  • Before making such claims, you need some supporting evidence. I challenge you to find one study or piece of statistical evidence showing any safety benefit to residency restrictions.

  • rightandwrong

    Iliana,
    Why aren’t there living restrictions for murderers?Or people convicted of selling drugs to kids. Or thieves? Or people with DUI’s? They KILL thousands of people a year. A good journalist always does research to get ALL of the facts. Writing based on fear and emotion is high school journalism.

  • The average, unathletic adult covers about 4 feet per second on foot at a leisurely gait. Meaning, such a person can easily cover 2,000 at walking speed in just about 8 minutes. There is running, bicycling, skateboarding and them new-fangled inventions, the automobile – to accomplish the task in a fraction of the time. Such a barrier is the Fullerton City Council’s idea of protecting my children???

    Generally speaking, children are NOT s3ksually abused by those with a previous conviction in this arena (95% of cases involve someone without such a record), by random strangers (well over 90% of s3ksually abused children knew and trusted their abuser, most of the time this is a family member or close friend), they are NOT s3ksually abused in schools, parks and other public places but in homes (either the victim’s or the abuser – more often than not that being the same residence).

    Exactly WHAT was this ordinance trying to “fix”? Let me ask this question then. How many children have been s3ksually abused in a school or park, by a stranger who is required to register as a s3ks offender, withing 2,000 feet of the abuser’s home? In the City of Fullerton? The State of California? Last year? Last 10 years?

    Any chance you can research that number and post it here, Ms. Lagraff? Thanks in advance. And pssst….. City Councils do not “fix” decisions by the State Supreme Court.

  • Sorry, but if my high school age child had turned in such a report – lacking any facts or research whatsoever – I would ground him/her until they came up with a remotely decent effort.

  • Here is yet another person who has an opinion and is not interested in facts. So completely usual these days.

    There is a pile of empirical evidence from actual reality which proves that residency “restrictions” aren’t helpful. But make no mistake, such restrictions are much, much worse than merely worthless. They have absolutely *directly* been responsible for the murder of people, including children. The murderers have clearly said so. And obviously they have caused piles of much less serious crime and problems for society at large.

    Another thing that is outrageous about the terrorists who support “s*x offender” punishments/restrictions/harassment (i.e. Registry Terrorists) such as this is that they are okay with ANY crime, as long as it does not involve S*X!!! A person can go INTO a school and SHOOT 10 children in the face and these terrorists are okay with that person not only living near schools but going into them as well. They are fine with shooters, as long as they didn’t touch anyone’s rear end while they were shooting them.

    And there are literally hundreds of examples of different types of crimes that Registry Terrorists love. Hundreds of different types of crimes to which these “restrictions” should and would apply if they were actually for protecting anyone. Obviously they are not.

    I’m going to take a real risk here and suggest that anyone who points a gun at another person, let alone shoots them, is more dangerous than a HUGE majority of people who are listed on the glorious S*x Offender Registries (SORs). The fact that there are no Registries or “restrictions” for these other crimes is complete proof that the SORs are not REALLY for “public safety”, “protecting children”, or any of those other lies.

    Since Registry Terrorists are obviously so clueless I will give them the only key fact that they need to know – children must be protected from ALL people. If you do that you don’t have any need at all for SORs or residency “restrictions”.

    Because the SORs, and especially the idiotic laws that the SORs have enabled and promoted, are not based on facts and are clearly primarily not for safety, they are acts of war. People who are listed on the SORs were punished for whatever they did. The vast majority of them have fully completed their legal sentences. No American supports criminal regimes adding additional “restrictions” against those people. Any family that is negatively affected by the SORs or tag-along “restrictions” is morally justified to retaliate for them. Registry terrorists are harassers who cannot mind their own business or leave other people alone. They must be treated as the terrorists that they are.

    It it time to stop these politicians, their big government of millions of idiotic, harassing laws, and their criminal law enforcement employees. Never support them.

  • Because those crimes don’t involve S*X!!! The un-American terrorists who support the S*x Offender Registries (i.e. Registry Terrorists) are just fascinated by S*X. They can’t get enough of talking and thinking about it. Nearly all Registry Terrorists are just so thoroughly insecure people who really, really, really need to feel better about themselves and have people that they feel they can look down on. They MUST demonize someone. Must. It is not PC any longer to hate “coloreds”, Muslims, or whomever. They must have people to hate.

  • antiestablismentarianism

    You actually bring up a very important observation, Rudy. I don’t think I can really add to this discussion since what I would want to say has already been said by everyone commenting. It is interesting you bring up property values though. I am a real estate investor by trade and although my community does not have quite a strict restriction, it does have one of 1000 feet. I live in a metropolitan area, so it may not be as effective, but I have yet to see a decrease in property value due to the proximity of people on the registry. I have seen an article recently where a seller tried to refuse to sell their house to a registrant due to their status and a Realtor responded that it was legal. I have also seen it in HOA bylaws that registrants are not permitted in that housing complex. I am assuming that property value is a bigger issue in more rural communities with less registrants, though.

  • antiestablismentarianism

    This is a national issue, not a local issue, and needs to be addressed as such. Let me explain. The reason for these residency restriction laws actually has nothing at all to do with protecting children, at least in the way that they claim. It has more to do with banishment. I have seen multiple articles where legislatures look at the evidence and realize the flaws, but leave the restrictions up for one reason and one reason only. If they have tighter restrictions than the neighboring communities, the registrants will move into those areas. This has caused a snowball effect in our nation since residency restrictions began. It goes along the idea of “not in my backyard”. If a community has no restriction while the neighboring communities have a restriction, the fear is that registrants will flock to the less restrictive community.

    While we know that the recidivism rate of registrants is between 5-15%, this can be directly calculated to the total number of registrants in a community. If a community goes from 100 to 1000 registrants because of less restrictive ordinances, then the assumed number of re-offenses from those registrants goes from 5-50 basing it on the 5% number. In contrast, if this is regarded as a national issue rather than a local one, the total number of registrants in any specific community will be unchanged and therefore the assumed re-offenses in that community will be unchanged as well.

  • City of Van Nuys

    Editors, please ask your contributors to back up their assertions with verifiable evidence. Ms. Lagraff claims that offenders present a hightened danger to children if those offenders live close to a park or a school. This is an empirical matter and I’ve yet to see evidence establishing the claim. Children are almost never victimized by strangers, let alone taken from a park. Children face much greater danger from their fathers, uncles, brothers, step fathers, grandfathers.

  • love prevails

    Ms. Lagraff, please check your facts before you write an article scaring the community! I am pretty sure that a good journalist should always look into the subject before reporting such exaggerated and fabricated news coverage. Wow!

  • Here is yet another person who has an opinion and is not interested in facts. So completely usual these days.

    There is a pile of empirical evidence from actual reality which proves that residency “restrictions” aren’t helpful. But make no mistake, such restrictions are much, much worse than merely worthless. They have absolutely *directly* been responsible for the murder of people, including children. The murderers have clearly said so. And obviously they have caused piles of much less serious crime and problems for society at large.

    Another thing that is outrageous about the terrorists who support “s*x offender” punishments/restrictions/harassment (i.e. Registry Terrorists) such as this is that they are okay with ANY crime, as long as it does not involve S*X!!! A person can go INTO a school and SHOOT 10 children in the face and these terrorists are okay with that person not only living near schools but going into them as well. They are fine with shooters, as long as they didn’t touch anyone’s rear end while they were shooting them.

    And there are literally hundreds of examples of different types of crimes that Registry Terrorists love. Hundreds of different types of crimes to which these “restrictions” should and would apply if they were actually for protecting anyone. Obviously they are not.

    I’m going to take a real risk here and suggest that anyone who points a gun at another person, let alone shoots them, is more dangerous than a HUGE majority of people who are listed on the glorious S*x Offender Registries (SORs). The fact that there are no Registries or “restrictions” for these other crimes is complete proof that the SORs are not REALLY for “public safety”, “protecting children”, or any of those other lies.

    Since Registry Terrorists are obviously so clueless I will give them the only key fact that they need to know – children must be protected from ALL people. If you do that you don’t have any need at all for SORs or residency “restrictions”.

    Because the SORs, and especially the idiotic laws that the SORs have enabled and promoted, are not based on facts and are clearly primarily not for safety, they are acts of war. People who are listed on the SORs were punished for whatever they did. The vast majority of them have fully completed their legal sentences. No American supports criminal regimes adding additional “restrictions” against those people. Any family that is negatively affected by the SORs or tag-along “restrictions” is morally justified to legally retaliate for them. Registry terrorists are harassers who cannot mind their own business or leave other people alone. They must be treated as the terrorists that they are.

    It it time to stop these politicians, their big government of millions of idiotic, harassing laws, and their criminal law enforcement employees. Never support them.

  • The evidence used by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Alaska case turned out to be a myth. New scientific studies are before the Supreme Court showing low recidivism. Unanimous U.S. Appeals Court ruling registries are punishment after the fact.

  • More significant than residency are physiological parameters such as free testosterone levels, especially in rape cases. Perhaps it should be measured periodically and made available as part of the offenders profile.

Comments are closed.

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