A California state senator arranged an improper deal with state corrections officials to stop an influx of parolees into his district 10 months before voters approved “Jessica’s Law,” the 2006 ballot measure he wrote to restrict where paroled sex offenders could live, the Sacramento Bee reports. In what state Sen. George Runner characterized as a “side agreement,” the state prison and parole agency said it would limit assignments of released offenders into the Antelope Valley to those who had “historical ties” to the area.
The agreement created an added layer of anti-parolee protection for the fast-growing desert valley communities on the northern fringe of Los Angeles County. State law mandates only that parolees be returned to the county of their last legal residence. The state, saying the deal violated the law, terminated the agreement this spring. “Jessica’s Law,” which bars sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks, has turned the vast majority of the state’s big-city areas into no-go zones for the targeted population. One result has been a huge increase in the number of sex offender parolees who say they are homeless, prompting a state oversight agency to call for a “rethinking” of the measure’s housing restrictions.