When California voters overwhelmingly approved Jessica’s Law in fall 2006, many assumed it would lock away child molesters and rapists who had slipped through the cracks of existing law, says the Los Angeles Times. By key measures, the law may be failing to deliver on its promise — and producing the opposite of its intended effects. In the 18 months after the law took effect, only 42 of 67 defendants in civil commitment trials — 63 percent — were sent to hospitals, compared with 41 of 51 — 80 percent — before the law. The finding is the latest sign that the law, named for a 9-year-old rape and murder victim, is not working as intended, despite costs that are expected to reach several hundred million dollars annually within a few years.
Another key provision banned registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, in some cases ruling out entire cities. The limits were meant to keep children safe. The California Sex Offender Management Board has said that strict parolee residency requirements might tend to increase rather than reduce sex crimes. The panel said the number of offenders listing themselves as transient rose by 44 percent to nearly 2,900 in the first year after Jessica’s Law passed. State Sen. George Runner, who propossed Jessica’s Law, has sponsored Proposition 6 on the November ballot, which would allocate state money to crime control, including $15 million annually for GPS monitoring by local law enforcement of gang offenders, violent offenders, and sex offenders.