A federal judge has temporarily halted enforcement of a new California law intended to bar sex offenders from living near parks and schools, the San Jose Mercury News reports. One day after 70 percent of voters approved it, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco said a controversial provision of Proposition 83 — also known as Jessica’s Law — had a “substantial likelihood” of being unconstitutional. Banishing a sex offender from living in his or her home could be “punitive in design and effect” and deprive the already-punished offender of their rights, Illston said in a lawsuit filed by an anonymous sex offender who lives in the Bay Area.
A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 27. If Illston finds the law unconstitutional, it could protect the 60,000-plus offenders already living throughout the state from having to comply with the restriction. The proposition has caused much confusion over its legality, practicality, cost, and effectiveness in stopping predatory sex crimes against children. Critics have said the 2,000-foot ‘Predator Free Zones” would push thousands of sex offenders out of cities and into homelessness or underground. More lawsuits are likely to be filed against other facets of the measure, which also requires electronic monitoring of offenders. State Sen. George Runner, who wrote the proposition, called the ruling “premature” and “ridiculous.”