Court: sex offender laws going too far?

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by strollingbones, Nov 21, 2008.

  1. strollingbones
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    strollingbones Diamond Member

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    Court: Sex-offender law unfairly restrictive
    Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Friday, November 21, 2008



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (11-20) 18:17 PST SANTA ANA -- A voter-approved law prohibiting sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or a park amounts to additional punishment for the offenders' original crimes, a state appeals court has ruled in a case that could affect thousands of parolees.



    The ruling Wednesday by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana was the first by a California court to find that the residency restrictions in Proposition 83, a November 2006 initiative, are not just public safety measures but also would punish ex-offenders by forcing them out of their homes.

    Prop. 83, called Jessica's Law by its sponsors, imposes "traditional banishment under another name," the court said.

    The ruling leaves the law in effect but could limit its application. The U.S. Constitution forbids laws that retroactively impose criminal penalties or increase punishment for past offenses.

    A lawyer for four men who are challenging Prop. 83 before the state Supreme Court said Thursday that the ruling should prevent the state from imposing the residency restrictions on parolees who committed sex crimes before the ballot measure passed.

    The attorney, Ernest Galvan, said the state now is applying the 2,000-foot buffer zone requirement to any former sex offender who has been paroled since Prop. 83 passed, even if the parolee committed a sex crime many years earlier and was serving a sentence for an unrelated crime. He said at least 2,000 parolees fall into that category, and the number is growing by hundreds each month.

    "You can't criminalize conduct after it's already happened, can't increase the punishment, because everyone's entitled to notice of what's criminal now," Galvan said.

    Lisa Page, spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said the administration is reviewing the ruling. "The governor strongly supports Jessica's Law and keeping families and children safe," she said.

    Prop. 83, approved by 70 percent of the voters, increased sentences for various sex crimes and also barred all registered sex offenders - whose crimes range from forcible rape to indecent exposure - from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children regularly gather.

    State law previously prohibited only convicted child molesters from living within a quarter-mile of a school. Prop. 83 makes most densely populated areas of California off limits to paroled sex criminals, including nearly all of San Francisco.

    The state initially sought to apply the residency restrictions to all 90,000 registered sex offenders in California, but federal judges ruled that it did not cover anyone paroled before Prop. 83 passed.

    In the case pending before the state Supreme Court, the four parolees say the residency restrictions are an unconstitutional retroactive punishment and an unreasonable parole condition. They say the limits should be applied only to those who committed crimes against children.

    In Wednesday's ruling, the appeals court overturned the residency restrictions on an Anaheim man, Steven Lloyd Mosley, who was convicted in 2007 of assaulting a 12-year-old girl four years earlier but acquitted of committing a lewd act. The trial judge nevertheless concluded that Mosley had committed a sex crime, ordered him to register with police as a sex offender and barred him from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park.

    In a 3-0 ruling, the court said the judge's order would have been valid if the Prop. 83 requirements were simply nonpunitive measures to protect the public. But because they have an "overwhelmingly punitive effect," the court said, they can be imposed only after a jury trial and conviction for a sex crime. That also means the restrictions can't be applied retroactively.

    The law forces many parolees to leave their homes and leaves them under "constant threat of ouster" from their new residences if a new school or park opens nearby, said Justice Raymond Ikola.

    Court: Sex-offender law unfairly restrictive

    shouldnt sex offenders who prey on children be given the most restrictive punitive measures we have? or do these laws amount to nothing more than modern day witch hunts? what would you do if a sex offender moved next door? would your reaction be different if that sex offender preys on children?
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  2. RetiredGySgt
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    RetiredGySgt Platinum Member

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    The law is a horrible infringement on the rights of those affected by it. The Government does not have the right to punish outside court decisions. If these people are a threat to society convict them and put them in jail. The Government does not have the legal right to effectively prevent them from living in any city or town.
     
  3. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    2000 feet of any school or park??

    Yeah, that's asking a bit much.

    That would mean they couldn't live within the most town limits in America.

    Perhaps one could understand that ruling for child sex-offenders (perhaps we need a special child-free place for all of them to live, too?) but for every hapless idiot who got caught in some sexual escapade?

    Sounds undoable to me.

    Sounds to me like we'd be telling those poor idiots who got caught taking a leak in a public park or something (and was charged with the sex crime of indecent exposure, for example...it happens..I know somebody this actually happened to) that he can't live in any town or city in the USA.

    Here's a thought...let's consider making these punishments (or safeguards post punishment) actually fit their crimes.
     
  4. Sunni Man
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    Sunni Man Diamond Member

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    I am for Life sentences for child molesters on the First offence. No parole. Period!
     
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  5. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    That's nice.

    But until we actually do that, demanding that they live over 2000' from every school or park seems damned near impossible.

    And besides, this law doesn't JUST APPLY to child molestors.

    It applies to every so called sex crime.
     
  6. Goose
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    I also beleave in locking them up and trowing away the key! but 2000' is a little much. the harder you push them the more of them come to my neighborhood!
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  7. William Joyce
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    William Joyce Chemotherapy for PC

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    Totally agree.

    You need not be liberal or conservative on this... if you're a lib, support short jail. If you're a conservo, support long jail.

    But this halfway crap is absurd. Get rid of it.
     
  8. Cecilie1200
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    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

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    Why not?
     
  9. Cecilie1200
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    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

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    I suspect it might be difficult to manage. That would be one of the reasons why our society does not typically use banishment as a legal punishment.

    However, practicality and efficacy aren't the questions being raised about this law, but "fairness" and whether or not the government can legally choose to use this method of punishment for crimes. On those two scores, I don't see a problem.
     
  10. Gunny
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    Gunny Gold Member

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    Think about. Supposedly, when one commits a crime and is punished for that crime, one's debt to society is supposed to be paid. Never seems to be the case, but it looks good on paper.

    In the case of sex offenders, we as a society are merciless hypocrites and pretty much violate sex offenders' Constitutional Rights, and we do it gleefully with a smile on our faces.

    Where I get annoyed is when people start trying to justify it morally and/or legally. Legally, it is not justified. Morally, it depends on one's morals.

    My moral compass tells me better to step on a few Rights than chance a repeat offense.

    But then again, whose rights are next?
     

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