Friday, September 14, 2012
California appeals court upholds as-applied challenge to sex offender residency restriction of Jessica’s Law
As reported in this local article, headlined “San Diego Sex Offenders Upset Residency Limit,” there mas a notable ruling earlier this week concerning California’s sex offender residency restrictions. Here are the basics from the press report:
It is “unreasonable” and “oppressive” to forbid registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, a California appeals court ruled.
California voters adopted Proposition 83, also known as Jessica’s Law, in 2006 to impose strict regulations on registered sex offenders. One provision in particular prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school or park.
In 2010, the California Supreme Court ruled that the housing restriction applies to all paroled sex offenders, regardless of when they committed their crime, but the court said it did not have enough evidence to rule on law’s constitutionality.
Following this ruling, William Taylor, Jeffrey Glynn, Julie Briley and Stephen Todd, all registered sex offenders living in San Diego County, challenged the residency restriction in Superior Court. All four parolees were unable to find housing after their release: Taylor and Briley lived in an alley behind the parole office on the advice of their parole agents, Todd lived in the San Diego riverbed with other registered sex offenders who had no place to live, and Glynn lived in his van.
In 2011, Judge Michael Wellington held an eight-day evidentiary hearing in which experts testified that 24.5 percent of San Diego residential properties comply with the Jessica’s Law residency requirement, but most of these dwellings are single-family homes. Less than 3 percent of multifamily housing meets the requirement.
Wellington subsequently ruled that the parole condition was “unconstitutionally ‘unreasonable'” because it “violated petitioners’ right to intrastate travel, their right to establish a home and their right to privacy and was not narrowly drawn and specifically tailored to the individual circumstances of each sex offender parolee.”
California’s Fourth Appellate District affirmed Tuesday, finding that the law’s “blanket enforcement as a parole condition in San Diego County has been unreasonable and constitutes arbitrary and oppressive official action.”
The full 37-page appellate panel ruling is available at this link, and here are the final two substantive paragraphs:
Glynn and Taylor are registered sex offenders because each of them committed a sex crime against an adult; there is no hint of pedophilia in their histories. The exclusion of parolees with backgrounds similar to Glynn and Taylor from living near schools and parks does not substantially protect children, but as the record here shows, it has tremendous impact on such parolees’ rights and liberty without bearing a substantial relation to their crimes. As in the cases of Glynn and Taylor, it prevented them from living with family members. In Taylor’s case, it also decreased his proximity to needed services and treatment. By banning all sex offenders, the absolute residency restriction of Jessica’s Law, when enforced as a parole condition, imposes a substantially more burdensome infringement on constitutional rights than is necessary to protect children from sex crimes. As such, the blanket enforcement of section 3303.5(b) as a parole condition in San Diego County has been unreasonable and constitutes arbitrary and oppressive official action.
As noted by the trial court, its orders do not prohibit CDCR from individually enforcing the residency restriction of Jessica’s Law as a parole condition for registered sex offender parolees in San Diego County. The orders merely disallow CDCR from blanket enforcement of the residency restriction. Parole agents retain the discretion to regulate aspects of a parolee’s life, such as where and with whom he or she can live. (§§ 3052, 3053, subd. (a).) Agents may, after consideration of a parolee’s particularized circumstances, impose a special parole condition that mirrors section 3303.5(b) or one that is more or less restrictive. It is only the blanket enforcement — that is, to all registered sex offender parolees without consideration of the individual case — that the trial court prohibited and we uphold.