July 15, 2015

CORONA: Sex offender ordinance may change

7-15-15 California:

The City Council may approve a code change to abolish some restrictions for sex offenders.

Long-standing housing restrictions for convicted sex offenders in Corona could be amended Wednesday, July 15, bringing the city into compliance with a state law passed in March.

In 2006, the California Supreme Court ruled that registered sex offenders must not live within 2,000 feet of a school, park, or other places children commonly gather, in an attempt to reduce recidivism and “help Californians better protect themselves, their children, and their communities,” according to Prop. 83, better known as Jessica’s Law.

Corona amended its city code in 2008 to reflect the decision. But the state Supreme Court decided on March 2, that the residency restriction was unconstitutional, and again the city must follow suit.

John Higginbotham, assistant city attorney for Corona, said the state’s decision has raised concerns locally.

“There was a reason they put those restrictions in place from the outset,” Higginbotham said. “We’re confident that now or in the future, there will be attempts to fix this in Sacramento. Cities can only do what the Supreme Court says they can lawfully do.”

The Supreme Court ruled that enforcing the residency restrictions restricted parolees’ ability to find housing, increased homelessness and hindered access to health treatment. The court also said that residence restrictions made it increasingly difficult for parole and law enforcement authorities to supervise sex offenders and “bore no rational relationship to ... protecting children from sexual predators,” the new law states.

The City Council is expected to adopt the resolution at its 6:30 p.m. meeting, and some residents are worried about the outcome.

“This will present danger for our children walking even short distances,” Corona resident Marcia Shoemaker said. “Why change this law? It works.”

The change would be little more than a formality because state law takes precedence, but it has prompted Corona police to add a fifth detective to monitor the 87 sex offenders registered in the city, Capt. Jerry Rodriguez said.

“We have no control over what the Supreme Court decides,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said officers will do more sweeps to ensure sex offenders comply with other restrictions, such as a law that prohibits sexual predators from living with other sex offenders in a single-family dwelling unless they’re related by blood, marriage, or adoption, per state law.

It’s too early to tell how many sex offenders are living in the formerly restricted 2,000-foot school buffer zone, he said. ..Source.. by PATRICK O’NEILL

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