Hundreds of recently paroled California sex offenders are being housed for weeks at a time in hotels throughout the state, a year after lawmakers complained about the practice, the Associated Press reports. Local law enforcement officials say that tensions are easing, primarily because state prison officials are better about telling them where and when offenders will be released. Prison officials now give at least 60 days notice before sex offenders are placed in communities. “We want to make sure that the word gets out,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said. Schwarzenegger spoke yesterday to a summit of 350 state and local officials who were exploring ways to better house and treat sex offenders.
The summit grew from public outrage last year after it was reported that parole agents in Los Angeles shuffled high-risk parolees between hotels to beat a five-day residency reporting requirement. At least seven offenders were illegally housed in hotels within a half-mile of schools. “The whole accusation that we were sneaking people into communities — there was some truth to that,” Corrections Secretary James Tilton said yesterday. Tilton said the department now views its role as helping communities decide where to place offenders, rather than independently finding them homes. Schwarzenegger said he is seeking $200 million to pay for the increased monitoring of sex offenders that is required by Jessica’s Law, approved by voters in November.