Californians are set to vote on a far-reaching crackdown on sex offenders, says the Los Angeles times. Proposition 83, dubbed Jessica’s Law by proponents, would lengthen prison and parole terms for the most violent sex offenders and make possession of child pornography a felony. Its most controversial provision would ban all released sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. Local governments could declare other places off-limits, and sex offenders would be monitored for life with an electronic tracking device.
The measure would cost the state at least $200 million annually within a decade, largely because of the satellite tracking and police needed to enforce it. The sponsors, a husband-and-wife team of Republican legislators, say it is worth the expense. Although there are no studies showing that residency limits reduce the number of sex crimes, they say common sense and public anxiety make it a smart idea to ban former offenders from areas where children gather. oes say the measure is based on hysteria, and ignores the fact that nine out of 10 sex offenders are not monsters lurking in the bushes but instead prey on people they know. Opponents, including a coalition of victims, note that the law would not forbid loitering near schools and say it could give parents a false sense of security. Citing the experience of other states, some scholars say the residency rule would banish the offenders from urban settings that offer the services, jobs, and family connections that help them remain law-abiding and dump them on rural communities ill-equipped to supervise them. Iowa prosecutors who backed such a law said it had backfired, and they want it repealed.