California Ends Link to Voter-Approved Sex Offender Housing Restrictions

California parole agents will have to find a specific link to child victims if they decide to bar sex offender parolees from living near schools and parks, under a new policy issued Tuesday.

The 2½-page memo issued by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation responds to a state Supreme Court ruling last month that the blanket residency limits imposed by California voters in 2006 go too far to restrict where sex offenders can live.

What became known as Jessica's Law required that any registered sex offender live at least 2,000 feet from schools or parks where children gather.

Under the new policy, parole agents can still restrict where sex offenders live.

But in order to do so, they must find that the restrictions are justified by the parolee's criminal history, and those circumstances must be spelled out in writing.

Release of the policy triggers a 60-day clock to review the files of about 6,000 sex offender parolees to decide if current residency restrictions should still apply, department spokesman Luis Patino said. About half of the sex offenders are considered child molesters.

Despite the brief guidelines, Patino and the president of Parole Agents Association of California, Ondre Henry, said parole agents have enough experience and training to know what to do.

"We do these kind of evaluations all the time. Now we have to be a little bit more articulate as to why," Henry said. "There will be some more effort given to each individual sex offender we supervise, but the information is there for us to make a rational decision."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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