A supervisor is condemning the application of a new state sex-offender law that is allowing those on parole to register as homeless, making it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor them.
Jessica’s Law was approved by California voters on Nov. 8, 2006, creating tougher penalties for sex offenders and tougher restrictions for released sex offenders, including prohibiting them from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children gather.
The new residency requirement severely limits possible locations where a sex offender can take up residency in San Francisco. When released on parole, a person must return to the jurisdiction where the crime was committed. The residency regulations have apparently resulted in a number of parolees registering as “transient,” or homeless.
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick is expected to introduce at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting a resolution condemning the policy and requesting that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation rescind it.
“When they start being homeless, where are they going to live, on buses?” McGoldrick said. “Are they going to go to shelters? You are making them more desperate than you want them to be.”
Since the law was adopted, about 60 sex offenders have been released on parole in San Francisco and about 15 are registered as transient, according to Phil Torda, a district administrator with the state’s adult parole operations. Torda added that those numbers are “fluid.”
If a residence for the parolee is found not to be in compliance, then “the parolee shall be required to immediately provide a compliant residence or declare themselves transient,” said an Oct. 11 memo from Scott Kernan, chief deputy secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, to regional parole administrators.
The San Francisco Police Department says the policy impedes the ability of law enforcement to closely monitor sex offenders by limiting them from conducting regular compliance checks, according to the resolution.
According to Torda, sex offenders out on parole who register as “transient” must check in with their parole agent daily and reregister with the Police Department every 30 days as a transient. A violation would result in an arrest, he said.
Under the law, all sex offenders are supposed to wear a device with a Global Positioning System, which can pinpoint the location of an offender within minutes. Currently, only high-risk offenders are being given the devices. “It’s possible” some sex offenders registered as “transients” are not wearing such devices, Torda said.
“You’re getting kind of the reverse effect of what the law is intended to do. I think it was not thought out for a city like San Francisco. It was for other counties that have more expansive land areas,” McGoldrick said.
Seth Unger, deputy press secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, acknowledged that “by definition, it is much harder to monitor someone who doesn’t have a residence. It’s certainly a concern,” he said.
“We’re not telling them to be homeless,” Torda said.