California corrections officials have stopped enforcing parts of “Jessica’s Law” in Los Angeles County after a judge ruled that the 2006 statute restricting how close sex offenders can live to parks or schools is unconstitutional, reports the Los Angeles Times. Judge Peter Espinoza concluded that the controversial measure left sex offenders in some areas with the choice of being homeless or going to jail because the law restricts them from living in large swaths of some cities such as Los Angeles.
Espinoza cited comments by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck that Jessica’s Law restrictions had resulted in “a marked increase of homeless/transient [sex offender] registrants.” In 2007, there were 30 sex offenders on active parole in Los Angeles. By this September, that number had jumped to 259, Beck said. Most of the new cases were filed in the last six months. “Rather than protecting public safety, it appears that the sharp rise in homelessness rates in sex offenders on active parole in Los Angeles County actually undermines public safety,” wrote Espinoza. “The evidence presented suggests that despite lay belief, a sex offender parolee’s residential proximity to a school or park where children regularly gather does not bear on the parolee’s likelihood to commit a sexual offense against a child.”