Hundreds of California sex offenders who face tough new restrictions on where they can live are declaring themselves homeless – truthfully or not – and that is making it difficult for the state to track them, reports the Associated Press. Jessica’s Law, approved by 70 percent of voters a year ago, bars registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children gather. That leaves few places where offenders can live legally.
It is hard to monitor sex offenders when they lie about their address or are living day-to-day in cheap hotels, homeless shelters, or on the street. It also means they may not be getting the treatment they need. “We could potentially be making the world more dangerous rather than less dangerous,” said therapist Gerry Blasingame, past chairman of the California Coalition on Sexual Offending. Similar laws in Iowa and Florida have driven offenders underground or onto the streets. The problem is worsening in Florida as about 100 local ordinances add restrictions to the state’s 1,000-foot rule. Sixteen homeless offenders are living under a Miami bridge, while another took to sleeping on a bench outside a probation office. Twenty-two states have distance restrictions varying from 500 feet to 2,000 feet, say. Most impose the offender-free zones only around schools, and several apply only to child molesters, not all sex offenders.