A new California law signed last week by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger aims at keeping the worst paroled child molesters from living near schools. A Los Angeles Times analysis shows that it will do far more than that, making the most populous areas almost completely off limits to those offenders.
Existing law bars anyone convicted of molesting a child younger than 14 from living within one-quarter mile of a public or private school that has grades no higher than eighth. The new law extends the buffer to one-half mile from any school – public or private – through grade 12 for offenders who have been classified as “high risk,” meaning they are likely to repeat their crime. In urban areas, where schools are close together, the buffers against high-risk offenders overlap extensively, leaving only small, oddly shaped spaces where they could live.