James Perkins, an eighth-grade dropout and convicted rapist, is on California’s “high-risk” list of paroled sex offenders, the Los Angeles Times says. Before his 24th birthday, he sexually assaulted one woman and raped another, having kidnapped both from shopping mall parking lots. He went to prison in 1984. Since Perkins was paroled to Shasta Lake, Ca., last fall, the city-s former mayor has pursued him like a dogged amateur detective. He frequently checks with store clerks to see whether the ex-con violated parole by purchasing alcohol. He cruises by the rapist’s yellow ranch house, slowing to a crawl.
Perkins’ half-brother lobbied state parole officials to bring Perkins to Shasta Lake. He says he thought he could help his kid brother create a new life. Now, he says the 43-year-old man he calls “Jimmy” feels as though he has traded one prison cell for another. Perkins is among 4,500 sex offenders paroled each year from state prisons – an average of 17 each workday. Most are men, with regrettable pasts and worrisome futures, rejoining a society disturbed by their presence. Some 102,000 registered sex offenders are scattered throughout California. Statistically, four in 10 will commit a sex crime again. Many released sex offenders embark on anonymous existences in big cities. Others, like Perkins, end up in places like Shasta Lake, population 9,700, where he has caused bitterness in a place that prides itself on its rural friendliness.