Hundreds of paroled sex offenders are winning reprieves from a ban against their living near schools or parks as they flood California courts with constitutional challenges to the most controversial part of Jessica’s Law, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Judges have routinely issued stays permitting sex offender parolees to ignore the ban on their living within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children “regularly gather,” pending rulings in their cases.
The slow pace of those challenges means the stays could last until their parole terms expire and the restrictions no longer affect them. The flurry of court actions adds a new wrinkle in an ongoing debate over the residency ban’s effect on public safety, and whether it’s worth the added strain on parole resources. A statewide task force last month found that the ban has led to a dangerous 24-fold increase in homeless sex offenders and recommended repealing the voter-approved limits. Parole agents should have leeway to target restrictions for the 6,300 paroled sex offenders living in communities, said the task force of sheriffs, police chiefs, probation and parole officers, prosecutors, and victim advocates. Since the law went into effect, the number of sex offender parolees who register as transient has risen from fewer than 100 to more than 2,100.