Orange County, Ca., supervisors have approved a law significantly restricting the movements of registered sex offenders, banning them from entering some beaches, parks, and harbor areas, reports the Los Angeles Times. Sex offenders who visit any of dozens of public spaces without prior approval from county officials face up to six months in jail or a $500 fine. The ban covers some of the region’s top attractions.
The law is the latest in a controversial series of ordinances across the U.S. aimed at limiting where sex offenders can live and visit. It was championed by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who said the idea was to keep sex offenders away from children and families. “We are setting up a safety zone by keeping parks and recreation zones safe from predators,” Rackauckas said. Critics expressed skepticism about the law, saying it would be difficult to enforce and appeared politically motivated. Franklin Zimring, a University of California Berkeley law professor, said the law was overly broad and misdirected, because more than nine out of 10 sex crimes targeting children are committed not by strangers in a park, but by family members or acquaintances. “It’s trying to solve a problem nobody knows exists,” he said, adding that laws imposing restrictions on sex offenders are snowballing because they are politically popular.