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California | Police State and Prisons

Proposition 83 Fact Sheet
by CJCJ
Tuesday Oct 31st, 2006 11:42 PM
Although several organizations have voiced strong opposition to the law, including the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a group of 84 rape-crisis centers and sexual assault prevention programs and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, the political interest in tough-on-crime measures has prevented thoughtful discussion on the efficacy, cost and realistic consequences of the initiative should it pass.

Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice









CENTER ON JUVENILE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

http://www.cjcj.org




Proposition 83: A Fact Sheet for Voters



Proposition 83, or Jessica’s Law, aims to become the toughest sex offender law in the nation by enhancing punishment and control measures of sex offenders in California. The initiative seeks to impose strict residency restrictions on known sex offenders and require lifetime GPS supervision of all registered sex offenders in the state. Its proponents encourage a yes vote, stating that California’s kids deserve the protection of its stringent provisions.



Although several organizations have voiced strong opposition to the law, including the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a group of 84 rape-crisis centers and sexual assault prevention programs and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, the political interest in tough-on-crime measures has prevented thoughtful discussion on the efficacy, cost and realistic consequences of the initiative should it pass.



Given the serious nature of sex offenses, and the grievous, long-term consequences to sex offense victims, California voters may find security in the imposition of longer mandatory prison sentences and restrictive lifelong monitoring of sex offenders. Although it might seem these controls would procure greater public safety for California, the strategy may not address the real issues that underlie most sex offenses. To better understand Proposition 83 and its potential impacts on public safety, it is necessary to place the initiative in its proper context. This includes a consideration of the known facts about sex offending, the consequences similar laws have had in other states, and the serious impact Proposition 83 may have, if passed.



§ According to the U.S. Justice Department, each year there are 60,000 to 70,000 arrests on charges of child sexual assault in the United States. Of these, only about 115 are abductions by strangers. Approximately 90 percent of all child victims of sexual offending know the perpetrator. The perpetrator is not a stranger to the child. Proposition 83 addresses the infrequent situation in which the sex offender is not known to the child.



§ Electronic GPS monitoring may be useful for a limited, high-risk population of sex offenders, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) currently uses GPS supervision of serious sex offenders in pilot programs throughout the state. By requiring all felony sex offenders to wear electronic monitor anklets for life, Proposition 83 will effectively hide the most dangerous offenders among the masses of offenders under supervision.



§ There are approximately 90,000 registered sex offenders in California. Proposition 83 does not clearly state whether it will apply retroactively, thereby requiring electronic monitoring of all current sex offenders at a high cost to taxpayers. Lawmakers will have to clarify the law with a 2/3 majority vote should it pass.



§ Residency restrictions for sex offenders are already required pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 3003(g)(1). A sexually violent predator and a serious paroled sex offender cannot live within one-quarter mile of a school, and a high-risk sex offender cannot reside within one-half mile of a school, daycare center, or any place where children gather. After implementing residency restrictions, the statewide prosecutors group in Iowa has urged their repeal because they impede the state’s ability to manage sex offenders. The residency restrictions in Proposition 83 are problematic for three important reasons:



o Known registered offenders are often forced into homelessness, thus becoming destabilized, more likely to offend, and more difficult to track.

o Police experience shows that residency requirements often result in the disappearance of offenders due to homelessness, limiting the ability of the police to effectively supervise sex offenders.

o Residency restrictions force offenders out of urban centers and into rural and suburban areas where smaller police forces, limited treatment and social programs, and scarce housing options make rehabilitation and supervision more difficult.



§ Among sex offenders, pedophiles who molest boys and rapists of women are among those most likely to recidivate. Proposition 83 applies to all registered sex offenders, casting the same net over the most serious offenders, and those who are amenable to treatment or unlikely to recidivate, despite limited resources and staffing.



§ CDCR has only 52 specially trained parole officers to supervise 2000 high-risk sex offenders. This means that each specially trained officer is responsible for a caseload of approximately 40 to 1. Proposition 83 will exacerbate this already difficult situation.



§ Studies in Colorado indicate that offenders who recidivate do not live closer to schools or childcare centers than non-recidivists, but that positive social support significantly lowers recidivism rates and rule violations. Proposition 83 will not foster access to positive support; on the contrary, social support may be challenged by residency requirements as offenders would be restricted from living with family who live within restricted zones.



§ Studies by the Minnesota Department of Corrections confirmed the myriad problems of residency restrictions, prompting the state to develop halfway and three-quarter-way houses to assist in the transition and treatment of sex offenders. These houses have promoted supportive networks within the community, thus stabilizing offenders and making recidivism less likely to occur. Proposition 83 does nothing to improve the chances for an offender’s successful transition into the community, thereby endangering long-term public safety.



After the passage of Senate Bill 1128 in September, a large portion of Proposition 83 was rendered redundant. The signed bill provides for enhanced sentences for child rape and electronic monitoring of serious offenders during parole. The most controversial and problematic provisions of Proposition 83 are all that remain, and California would do better to forego them.



Despite early support for Proposition 83, major California newspapers have now published statements in opposition to the initiative. The San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, and Sacramento Bee, among others, urge “no” votes based on their review of highly demonstrative evidence suggesting that Proposition 83 relies on fear-based politics and offers no effective contribution to improve California’s public safety. Editorials note that residency restrictions will force offenders into areas where housing and job opportunities are scarce, and electronic monitoring of all felony sex offenders will divert funds and attention away from the most serious offenders.



Only a week before the election, Proposition 83 is finally undergoing scrutiny by law enforcement and victims’ advocates. A leader of the California prison guard’s union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), indicated that he would not vote for the initiative. CCPOA President Mike Jimenez retracted his support for Proposition 83 because the CDCR is not prepared to implement lifetime GPS monitoring of all sex offenders and the residency restrictions would lead to a surge in the number of difficult-to-track homeless offenders. This comes after the CCPOA contributed $25,000 to support the proposition.

Law enforcement, victims’ rights advocates, and statewide media have recognized Proposition 83’s false promise of safety and are now advocating against the initiative. There are better methods proven to reduce recidivism among sex offenders. California should seek to implement these measures and avoid wasting its resources on Proposition 83.

Sources and Note:

Sources include the “The Impact of Residency Restrictions on Sex Offenders and Correctional Management Practices,” by Marcus Nieto and David Jung, Caliifornia Research Bureau (August 2006), Iowa County Attorneys Association Statement on Sex Offender Residency Restrictions in Iowa, the California General Election Official Voter Information Guide, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault Public Policy Web site at http://www.calcasapublicpolicy.org, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Web site at http://www.cacj.org.

The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that offers policy analysis, program development and technical assistance in the criminal justice field. For more information, please visit http://www.cjcj.org or contact Megan Corcoran at 415-621-5661, ext. 309.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Tim W
Thursday Nov 2nd, 2006 10:11 PM
According to a study conducted by the Justice Department that has been referenced repeatedly in news articles recently, the recidivism rate for sex offenders is only about 3%. That having been said...

What about the wrongfully convicted, the rehabilitated and the one-time offender? I am a registered sex offender. At age 20, I had a consensual relationship with a young lady whom I later learned was even younger. I served an eight-year prison sentence for my crime and was released on parole 17 months ago. Since my release, I am the most stable I have ever been: holding the longest full-time job of my life, hoping to continue my education soon, and trying to live a respectable lifestyle to make amends for my actions. I am a threat to no one. If Prop 83 passes, I will have to move out of my small town and find a new place to live. Since parole restrictions don't allow me to drive, I will have to find a new job where ever I move to. What employer wants to hire an outcast wearing a large GPS ankle bracelet that cannot be hidden by clothing? Those that will comply with this new law are not the ones likely needing to be watched. A criminal history can be just that: History. Those individuals that could be a threat to our children won't likely allow themselves to be tagged; they will go into hiding just as thousands of others already have by failing to register. Failure to register carries a six-year prison sentence as penalty when caught. Allow the SVP Program, the monitoring of high risk offenders, and the internet database to serve their purposes and educate yourselves about who is in your neighborhoods. Talk to the sex offenders living near you and judge for yourselves whether or not they could be a threat to your families. Most just want to be left alone to rebuild their shattered lives. Let's protect our children responsibly and vote "NO" on Prop 83. Thankfully, everyone I know who knows my past is doing so. Don't allow a couple high profile media cases to lead you to act in fear.
by craig
Monday Nov 13th, 2006 11:13 AM
One of the initiatives on this November’s ballot is Proposition 83. Sadly, very little public discussion has been focused on this initiative. Dubbed “Jessica’s Law,” this is another misguided attempt to try to make our children safer, but it plays on public hysteria to no real benefit. It is difficult to argue against something as positive as child safety, but this proposed law would spend billions of dollars to implement a Buck Rogers system of global positioning satellite ankle bracelets for all of California’s 90,000 plus registered sex offenders—for life, yet. The estimated costs for this hair brained scheme cannot possibly be accurately calculated or projected into the future, but it figures to be huge. As it is, the authors of this initiative think that about one billion dollars should probably cover the costs for the first year. Our long history with governmental cost estimates makes the fuzziness of this figure clear. Huge cost over-runs are almost guaranteed.
Some vague idea that the costs of this law might be paid by offenders themselves is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time. Blood out of a turnip, anyone?

As cogent as this idea may seem at gut level, the illogic of this plan can be seen in the following: First, this proposition makes no distinction at all between sexual offenders. It lumps them all into one big pile. Some sex offenders are forced to register for even misdemeanor crimes such as urinating in public. To pay the exorbitant cost to place lifetime GPS tracking devices on these people is plain ludicrous. The wording of this proposition is typically vague (as are most proposed laws written by amateurs). At one point the proposal says something about “Violent Sexual Predators”, but later it mentions “High Risk Sex Offenders” as somehow equivalent. The voters might read this and think, ”Yeah, let’s put this bracelet on the worst of the worst.” But in California there are only two classifications for sex offenders: SVP—or sexually violent predators, and HRSO--high risk sex offenders. Despite the suggestion to the contrary, there is no such thing as a “low risk sex offender” in California; the lowest one can be is “High-risk”. So, while perhaps suggesting that only the worst and most dangerous offenders will be targeted for this draconian and astronomically expensive treatment, it, in effect, makes this program mandatory for absolutely every registered offender in the state!

Another intelligent question would be, “How does knowing the exact location of 100,000 registrants twenty-four hours a day make children (or anybody else) any safer?” Will this device tell us which ones have a kid tucked under their arm? No, of course not. A kid goes missing after school. His parents aren’t sure anything is wrong until several hours later. So, we track the movements of all the several thousand offenders in a hundred mile radius, and come up with a solid red blotch on the computer screen, there’s so many. Plus, what if somebody not registered did it? Even a child could see that this supposed “solution” is of very little use at all.

Iowa is one of several states ahead of us in implementing this law. At first, their police, prosecutors, district attorneys, etc. were in favor of this legislation. But after having to wrestle with the awkward and impossible implementation of these provisions, they now favor the repeal of “Jessica’s Law.” Additionally, the mandated “offender free zones” created by this law (no offender can reside within one-half mile of a school, park, playground, daycare, etc.) have shown to have had absolutely no impact on the statistical incidence of child abduction or other crimes against children (or anyone else). It turns out that if you’re a sex offender determined to grab a kid, you can simply drive past a school or grab a kid as he walks past your house or anywhere else.

Lastly, California prisons are overcrowded to an all-time record. The Federal Courts are poised to perhaps Federalize the operation of the California Dept of Corrections (as they already have done with CDC Medical operations). Recently, the CCPOA (the powerful prison guards’ union) lobbied Sacramento for 6 billion dollars for new prison construction. They were turned down, because this is simply not a responsible use of the limited tax dollars in our state. The state legislature is very favorably inclined to the prison industry in this state, but enough is sometimes enough.

Prop 83 mandates one half billion dollars in the first year alone for new prison construction, to house all the offenders who will be given greatly longer sentences under its provisions. This is potentially an end-run around the state legislature, who for once failed to give the CDC whatever it asks for.

Lastly, the offenders who are registered are those who are already complying with the restrictions placed upon them. We know where they are because they’ve followed the rules. There are many more offenders who fail to register. We don’t know where they are. Many states require registration for ten years. After that, the previous records of offenders are certainly available, should any repeat offense occur. California already requires lifetime registration for these people—even 90 and hundred year old geriatrics living in nursing homes. The cost of this extreme and shortsighted current law already costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to pay the salaries of law enforcement personnel to simply file paperwork all day long. To add the almost unfathomable cost of outer space technology and the thousands of additional employees to install, monitor and maintain such equipment is money very poorly spent.

One way to make children safer would be to require all kids to wear safety helmets when riding in automobiles. The incidence of child traffic injury and death would definitely be lowered by this. Where do I go to start a petition to put that into law? And where do we draw the line? Face it, everyone wants kids—and everybody else—to be safe. There’s just a big line between what’s reasonable and efficacious, and what is not. Prop 83 is a disaster waiting to gum up the works here in California. With a fraction of the money Prop 83 will spend, we could immunize every child in the state. That would help kids too. Really.
by someone who cares
Thursday Jan 4th, 2007 11:47 AM
i am sorry for your situation and to be honest that is one of the only kind of sex offenses i sympathize with. But on the contrary, we can not take the chance. just because a few sex offenders are wrongly convicted or are not a threat to society. the majority are rightly convicted and are a threat to society. If i had a say so i would limit to which kind of sex offenders had to go through this very degrading process. But unfortuantly i don't. It just angers me so the unbelivable amount of sex crimes that are committed in this world every day. It's ridiculous! the numbers have never in history been so high...and why?? why is that?? could it be because it has become so common?? i know that sin is sin. but why must sex crimes be equal to the simple act of stealing a candy bar? I know back in history such sex crimes were still happening and there was no laws against it. But i can almost bet there still were not as many being done as there is today.....now isn't that ironic??thats why i believe we are doing something wrong....jail was meant at the begining to "correct" those who commited crimes...now it is a form of punishment...and is it really working. i think not. so we need this law to show any other eligable sex offenders that if they are covicted it won't just go to jail for a couple years and do their time...they are gonna have to pay for it the rest of their lives. but once agin i am sorry for your situation i just hope you can understand my view.