Thursday, July 13, 2006

California Sex Offender Initiative Would Make San Fran Off Limits To Sex Offenders

California voters will have the opportunity to vote on a sex offender law, similar to the one enacted this year in Indiana, which places restrictions on where convicted sex offenders may live. If enacted, the measure known as Jessica's law would prohibit convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school or park where children play compared to the 1,000 feet limit under Indiana's new law. Because San Fransicso is so densely populated, San Francisco would essentially become a sex offender free-zone if the initiative is approved by voters. As the Capitol Weekly explains:

In San Francisco, one of the nation's most densely populated cities, that leaves only a few square blocks as inhabitable for registered sex offenders. The largest areas that would remain open to past predators would be the airport region, downtown's industrial zones and cemetery-dense Colma--none of which contain much, if any, residential housing.

The Capitol Weekly notes that a Georgia law imposing a 1,000 feet restriction is tied up in the courts, but if the past is any indication, California voters are likely to approve the measure. "Since Californians reauthorized the death penalty in 1978, the state's voters have approved all but one of the nearly 20 tough-on-crime measures put before them," the Capitol Weekly reports.

Rural legislators are concerned that the measure will force "hordes of sexual predators" out of urban areas and into the rural areas in order to comply with the law. Isn't that ironic? Organizations representing Christian fundamentalists are the driving force behind these new laws which will actually work to draw more sexual predators to the rural communities where Christian fundamentalists are more prevalent.

The City of Indianapolis also recently approved a new ordinance which makes it unlawful for certain sex offender to go within 1,000 feet of parks and other places children gather to play. Violators are subject to stiff monetary fines, in addition a potential felony charge they would face under the state's new law. The ICLU has raised similar concerns that there are very few places that sex offenders in Indianapolis may live or visit because of the number of places that are now off-limits.

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