Will Changes in Registered Sex Offender Monitoring Make California Safer?

sex_offender_trackingIn California, “Jessica’s Law” increases prison sentences for violent and habitual sex offenders, and bars offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and parks and requires them to wear GPS trackers for life. But there are many critics of Jessica’s Law for the way it manages registered sex offenders.

One argument is that Jessica’s Law increases the risk of instability. Since it increases the number of homeless sex offenders — over 2,300 registered sex offenders in California who live on the streets or in their cars. “I don’t understand how the public feels safer with me roaming the streets aimlessly,” said Earl Taylor, a 48-year-old registered sex offender.

Governor Schwarzenegger called for a review of how California manages its registered sex offenders. It’s likely that revisions will require all 66,000 sex offenders in the state will be monitored after revisions to Jessica’s Law — currently fewer than 17,000 are.

The sense of security is misleading, Coombs and others said, because there’s a belief among the public that all 66,000 sex offenders are monitored. But even if authorities had the money to strap ankle bracelets on all sex offenders and enforce residency restrictions, they could face legal challenges.

The law drives up costs, with little to show for them, in other ways. For example, it significantly increased the number of offenders evaluated for involuntary civil commitment, where persons deemed to be sexually violent predators are sent to a secure, state-run medical center until they no longer pose threats. The state spends up to $1 million a month on evaluations, up from $161,000 before Jessica’s Law.

It’s a tricky subject. Clearly there’s a problem with the way sex offenders are tracked, but no proven solutions.

Life360 is working hard to stay on the forefront of protection from sex offenders, and we offer tools to help you find and monitor sex offenders.

More at the San Francisco Chronicle.