California: Don’t Screw with the Sex Offender Registry

Megan's Law Namesake Megan Kanka

Megan’s Law Namesake Megan Kanka

The California Sex Offender Management Board is recommending an overhaul of the system that would change the criteria for lifetime registration, taking into account the severity of the crime and the likely risk posed by the offender. They recommend a 3-tiered system. Level one sex offenders, non-serious and non-violent sex offenders would be removed from the list after 10-years. Level two sex offenders, serious or violent offenders who are not high-risk would be removed from the list after 20-years. Level three sex offenders, sexual predators would continue to register for life.


As of 8/25/2013, there are 81,112 registrants displayed on the Megan’s Law Internet site. Information on approximately 30,421 other offenders is not included on this site and cannot be posted online. That means that more than 27% of registered sex offenders are already not subject to the terms of Megan’s Law. They are protected from public scrutiny.


A mechanism already exists to be removed from California’s Sex Offender Registry. Once convicted or adjudicated, this is lifetime requirement for both juveniles and adults. In order to be relieved of this requirement, juveniles adjudicated in juvenile court may petition to have their record sealed; adults may petition the court for a Certificate of Rehabilitation in some cases or a full Governor’s Pardon in most cases.


I can appreciate and understand that certain individuals: offenders forced to register because they were caught peeing on a fireplug, or those caught up in Romeo & Juliet scenario’s, wish to be distanced from hard core offenders, but this is a small sub-set that can be dealt with on an individual basis without a sweeping overhaul of the entire system.


We live in a society where the NSA can capture, organize, collate, listen to, and categorize every phone call made in this country, or an ATM can calculate our bank accounts from among 10’s of millions of bank accounts millions of times per day, down to the penny. Therefore, I would suggest that the CA DOJ needs an IT overhaul more than it needs a SOR overhaul if they are having trouble monitoring 100,000 individuals.


According to the CATO Institute, something like 90% of criminal cases end in a plea bargain. That means that the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser crime and receive a lesser sentence, rather than go to trial on a more severe charge where he faces the possibility of a harsher sentence.


The cynical recommendations by the California Sex Offender Management Board are simply another attempt to weaken California’s criminal code. Look at some of the damage that has already been caused during Governor Jerry Brown’s administration:

  • AB 109 Transferred responsibility of tens of thousands of felons convicted for so called non-serious, non-violent, and non-sexual crimes from the state to the counties
  • SB 9 grants freedom to juvenile killers previously sentenced prison sentences of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP)
  • Prop 36 that effectively gutted the 3-Strikes and You’re Out law.

I am not opposed to tiering sex offenders. It would enable to public to better assess their threat. But that does not mean that huge numbers of individuals should be removed from the sex offender registry based upon an arbitrary number.


I will actively oppose the recommendations of the California Sex Offender Management Board just as I actively opposed AB 109, SB 9, and Proposition 36. Just look back before Megan’s Law, before 3-Strikes, before any attempt was made to hold criminals accountable. Back in the early ‘90’s when Polly was tragically taken from us California had soaring crime rates. We had the highest crime rates in history. After the implementation of these programs, and I know that they are controversial in certain circles; crime in California had been reduced by half. I think that this is a legacy to be proud of. I think attempts to undermine those efforts are cynical. I think they are based on flawed ideology and I think that they place the good citizens of California at risk.

The Re-Victimization of Innocents: Criminal Justice Run Amok!

Murder Victim Andi Brewer

Murder Victim Andi Brewer

Karl Roberts was 35-years-old on May 15, 1999 when he kidnapped, raped and murdered his 12-year-old niece Andi Brewer. His defense was based on a head injury he suffered when he was 12-years-old and lost 15% of his brain, including a portion tied to the ability to understand consequences for one’s actions. The Prosecutor said he knew right from wrong. The jury sided with the prosecution and convicted Roberts of capital murder.


During the sentencing phase of his 2000 trial Roberts declared that, “I want to die.” The judge agreed and sentenced him to death. After the trial he waived his rights to appeal. On May 22, 2003 an automatic appeal resulted in the Arkansas Supreme Court upholding the death sentence by a 6-1 decision.


Hours before he was to be executed in January 2004, Roberts changed his mind and authorized his attorneys to appeal his conviction. A judge later issued a stay of execution. His attorneys argued that “no relevant or contemporaneous mental evaluation” was conducted when Roberts waived his right to appeal, therefore his appeal was invalid. On Valentine’s Day 2013, Andi’s mother sat through yet another hearing on the merits of Roberts’ latest claim.


Perhaps you can imagine the anger that shattered her heart when the Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously agreed with her daughter’s cold blooded killer and reopened the case. I can, because Rebecca DeMauro has been my friend since shortly after her daughter was murdered. She is correctly apoplectic about the fact that the state criminal justice system has allowed Roberts and his defense team to re-victimize her family as they dredge up the horrific and painful memories of little Andi’s tragedy over and over and over.

Murder Victim Travis Alexander

Murder Victim Travis Alexander

Jodi Arias is on trial in Maricopa County, Arizona for the brutal June 4, 2008 murder of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander. Her story has changed several times. Initially, she told investigators that she knew nothing about the crime. When confronted with evidence to the contrary she said that she was there, but intruders had broken into Travis’ condo and committed the horrific murder. By the time her trial began Arias’ story had changed yet again. Now, she is claiming self-defense.


In a scheme obviously concocted by Jodi and her able bodied defense team, Arias has spent more than 8-days on the witness stand thoroughly and in great detail assassinating the character of her murder victim. Despite absolutely no evidence to back up her claims she has accused Alexander of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Tragically, he is not able to defend himself because he is dead: he was shot in the face; stabbed 27-times; and nearly decapitated when his throat was slit from side to side.


Travis Alexander’s family and friends pack the court every day. Many have come from California at their own expense to represent their beloved Trevor in the courtroom. They listen with disgust and anger as Jodi’s lawyers lead her through the sewer of her memories…or is it her cold calculation? Unfortunately, Travis’ family cannot respond: they cannot defend Travis’ memory. All they can do is sit stoically, avoid eye contact with the jury, and choke back the screams of outrage that must remain stuck at the back of their throats. If they act out in any capacity they might provide grounds for a mistrial, and then they will have to sit through it all over again: the lies, the accusations, and the character assassination!

Altar Boys

Altar Boys

Shana Rowan is the Executive Director of USA FAIR, a non-profit organization she founded that is dedicated to defending the indefensible: registered sex offenders. According to her official biography, Shana’s passion for registered sex offenders is personal and very close to her heart. She is engaged to marry a registered sex offender named Geoff. His support gave Shana the strength she needed to leave a long-term abusive relationship. Now his past is making it impossible for them to move on with their lives.


In her biography Ms. Rowan recounts his criminal behavior and portrays her fiancé as the true victim and she totally dismisses the very young half-sister that he serially abused. She argues that she and Geoff are victims of bad policy, and that sex offender registration and community notification laws (Megan’s Law) punish hundreds of thousands for crimes that a very small percentage of people might commit. She forgets that each and every person on the sex offender registration list has been convicted of, not committed as there is a vast distinction, at least one sex crime, almost always against a child or a woman.


Citing studies that demonstrate that sex offenders have a very low recidivism rate Ms. Rowan ignores the best known study of all: the long running Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal. For years, decades or perhaps centuries, high level Church leaders were aware that pedophile priests lurked in dioceses all over the world abusing young children. It was standard practice that pedophile priests, when found out, would be routinely shuffled between parishes and allowed to have continued, unsupervised access to children who they continued to serially rape. After years of investigation the Catholic Priest scandal exploded around the globe. The most significant finding is that cases worldwide reflect patterns of long-term abuse and the covering up and protecting of sex offenders. Given the opportunity, preferential sex offenders will continue to abuse children under the cloak of anonymity.


Megan’s Law is about denying perverts the cloak of anonymity. Each and every young victim, including Geoff’s victim, require years and years of psychological, emotional, and spiritual counseling. Many are hard pressed to put their lives back together, and all endure shame and guilt. Sex offender laws are not about punishing misunderstood men for youthful discretions, they are about protecting children and women from a known threat. Megan’s Law puts a public face on heinous crimes that for most of our history have been America’s dirty little secret.


Each of these three specific situations was enabled by institutions designed to protect and/or nurture the public. Victims and their families are being re-victimized in acceptable, status-quo ways. In one case, the Arkansas State Supreme Court has sided with an admitted baby rapist/killer and his American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) led legal team. Jodi Arias and her defense team decided that her road to redemption is to completely vilify the man she brutally murdered, despite evidence to the contrary. Finally, Shana Rowan cites the ACLU and other so-called social justice organizations as justification for her misguided bloviating.



Some Things Never Change

The following article first appeared in Coronet Magazine, August 1946

Coronet Magazine, August 1946

Coronet Magazine, August 1946

“A heartbroken father, his voice trembling with grief and terror, went on the air.  Sobbingly he pleaded with the kidnapper who had snatched his daughter from her bed the night before.  He begged him not to harm the child.  He would do anything — anything at all — if only his little girl was returned home, safe and sound.


For weeks newspapers followed the case, reporting every minor development of the ensuing manhunt.  Finally, newsboys were hawking murder headlines that shocked and angered every American.  The missing child had not been kidnapped for ransom.  She had been abused and butchered.  Her kidnapper had been a sex criminal—a depraved prowler who had stolen her from her bed and then had tried to hide his crime by killing a helpless child.


Frantic parents asked for extra patrols around their homes.  Americans were aroused, angry, infuriated–and never was anger more justified.  No wonder Americans rage and fume every time shocking headlines meet their eyes.  It is ever present, terribly real, and deadly serious.  It should not only make us angry–it should keep us angrily determined to fight the menace until the solution is finally reached.  For there is a solution: As the first step toward it, we must completely revise our present thinking about sex crimes and sex criminals.” 

Déjà vu – Another Monster in our Midst


Killer, Rapist Dennis Stanworth

Killer, Rapist Dennis Stanworth

Serial rapist and child killer and registered sex offender Dennis Stanworth B-5936 had previously been sentenced to death and life without the possibility of parole, yet he was arrested yesterday for murdering his mother.


Dennis Stanworth’s violent crime spree began on August 12, 1965 when he carjacked a 20-year old nursing student’s car, drove her to a remote location not far from Oakland’s Bay Bridge, threatened her life and raped her.


It was about sixty-degrees Fahrenheit at 8:30 p.m., on November 4, 1965 when Stanworth dragged a 24-year old into a field in El Sobrante, held an ice pick to her throat, raped and robbed her.


On the evening of May 13, 1966 Stanworth similarly carjacked, raped, and threatened a 17-year old high school student in Richmond.


Less than three months later, on August 1, 1966, near Pilole he brutally raped and murdered  15-year old Susan Muriel Box and 14-year old Caree Lee Collison.


On August 3, 1966, the day the girl’s bodies were discovered, Stanworth carjacked, raped and robbed, and stole the car of an 18-year old young lady near the San Mateo Coastline. The authorities arrested him in her car a short time later, finally putting an end to his crime spree.


Dennis Stanworth pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder, one count of kidnaping to commit robbery with bodily harm, four counts of kidnaping, three counts of forcible rape, one count of sexual perversion, and one count of robbery. He was sentenced to death for each of the murder counts and life without the possibility of parole on the aggravated kidnapping count.


Stanworth became eligible for parole when the California Supreme Court ruled that the use of capital punishment was considered impermissible cruel and unusual as it degraded and dehumanized the parties involved. 


In 1979 the California Board of Prison Terms (BPT) recommended Stanworth’s parole based on the following factors: lack of prior serious criminal history or history of violent conduct; an excellent work record while in prison, six-years of participation in therapy programs, and personal savings of $3,000. Finally, after spending seventeen years in prison for a litany of crime that should have mandated his extinction Dennis Stanworth was released back into the community.

Dennis Stanworth SOR

Has Dennis Stanworth been living quietly these past decades, or might he be responsible for unsolved crimes that have plagued the Bay Area over the years? According to the California Sex Offender Registry Dennis Stanworth is guilty of oral copulation. The California Department of Justice is unable to determine if there are any subsequent felony convictions for this registrant at this time. Finally, why were our elected officials protecting this monster when they should have been protecting us?

Proposition 35: Dragging Megan’s Law into the 21st Century

Megan’s Law namesake Megan Kanka

One benefit of Proposition 35 that has received little attention is the mandate to bridge Megan’s Law into the 21st Century. Together we can create a safer California by requiring all registered sex offenders to include Internet identifiers as a component of the registration process.


Sex offender registration and community notification, otherwise known as Megan’s Law, was adopted by all 50-states and the Federal government in the mid 1990’s. Megan’s Law is based on the premise that, because of their propensity to reoffend, convicted sex offenders pose a threat to society. Therefore, the public benefits by knowing where they live in the community.


The Internet was not the ubiquitous presence that it is today when Megan’s Law was enacted, so email addresses, IM handles and other Internet identifiers were not included as a component of the registration process. Prop 35 changes that by requiring registered sex offenders to provide email addresses, social networking profiles and other online identifiers so that social networking sites can scour relevant profiles from their online communities.


The concept of convicted sex offenders including their Internet identifiers as a component of the sex offender registration process is not new. It was successfully legislated in New York in 2008 and has thus far been responsible for removing more than 24,000 sex offender profiles from social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.


Eighty-two percent of California’s 98,569 registered sex offenders are compliant. This means that they obey the terms of the law, disclose the personal, identifying, employment and other information that is required by the sex offender registration process. There is every reason to believe that once Prop 35 becomes law they will also include their Internet identifiers.


Since the California State Legislature has demonstrated an unwillingness to take these reasonable steps to protect kids who go online, Prop 35 will enable government to use this administrative procedure to stop sexual predators from using the Internet to prey on innocent children. By voting for Prop 35 California’s citizens can take control of our own future.


Proposition 35 will protect California’s children by increasing penalties against human traffickers and online predators, requiring convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders, requiring all registered sex offenders to provide authorities with information about their internet accounts, and using the fines against convicted traffickers to pay for victim services.


The days of allowing human traffickers and cyber-perverts to use the Internet to troll for innocent children can end now. So, join me, a huge bi-partisan coalition of elected officials, law enforcement agencies and fraternal organizations representing more than 90,000 sworn law enforcement personnel, and virtually every victim’s rights organization in California and vote YES on Proposition 35 when you step into the voting booth next Tuesday.


Legacy is defined as something transmitted by or received from the past. In my business, which so often deals with the aftermath of loss, legacy is at the vanguard of peoples thoughts. While it might not have been at the forefront of our minds when all was well, it becomes integrally tied into future considerations as we cope with the loss of a loved one. The closer our relationship to the one who has passed, the more we think about their legacy.


8-year-old Polly Klaas

When the past arrives suddenly and without invitation defining a legacy is a way to make sense of the senseless, and to give meaning to death. It was thoughts of legacy that helped me ascend from the depths of the abyss after Polly’s tragedy in 1993. She had given beautiful meaning to her life, but after October 1, she only existed in memory and risked being measured as nothing more than a statistical abstraction. I wanted to ensure that her death had meaning; that it was not in vain. To achieve that goal I had to create her legacy.


Violet and I thought that the Polly Klaas Foundation would be the instrument of that legacy, but instead we were deceived. Finally, the KlaasKids Foundation, which we founded and controlled, became the vessel upon which her legacy would be conceived and implemented. Stop Crimes Against Children became our mission and Polly was our beacon. Almost 20-years later, we feel a sense of accomplishment and truly believe that Polly’s death represents more than a point on a pie chart.


Amber Harris Video In Omaha, Nebraska the parents of twelve-year-old Amber Harris struggled mightily to define the legacy of their slain daughter. On November 29, 2005 Amber got off of the school bus at the wrong stop and was never seen alive again. Her remains were discovered in a shallow grave on May 10, 2006. The man sentenced to death for kidnapping, raping and murdering Amber was a registered sex offender who lived near her bus stop. At Amber’s publicly televised memorial her mother announced that her legacy would include school bus rerouting so that proximity to the homes of level 3 registered sex offenders could be avoided. Amber’s parents were successful in that effort.




Megan Kanka & Megan’s Law

So many laws are named after murdered children. When the mother of seven-year-old Megan Kanka quietly and eloquently told reporters that if she had known that a high risk sex offender lived across the street she never would have allowed her daughter to play alone in the front yard, it struck a public nerve. Since 1996, convicted sex offenders in the United States have been required to register with local law enforcement and citizens have been able to access that information to protect their families. Megan’s legacy is Megan’s Law.


In 2005, little Jessica Lunsford was sexually abused and murdered by a level 3 sex offender neighbor in rural Florida. Her father Mark began touring State Capitols lobbying for legislation that would classify lewd or lascivious molestation on a person under the age of 12 as a life felony, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and lifetime electronic monitoring of adults convicted of lewd or lascivious molestation against a victim less than 12 years old. Jessica’s Law has been enacted in more than 40-states and Jessica Lunsford’s legacy will protect children for decades to come.


Legacy can be manifested in many forms. Every time that Michael Le and Krystine Dinh volunteer at the Sierra Search Center they add to their beloved sister and cousin Michelle Le’s legacy. Like so many others who volunteer with the KlaasKids Foundation or the Sierra Search Center, they have found a way to pay their loss forward through legacy building. You can create a movement that will change the world; you can conduct your life in a way that will honor the memory of the child, brother, sister, mother or father who inspires thoughts of legacy; or you can do any and all things in between. One is no more important than the other. What is important is that you honor the memory of loss in a way that soothes your mind and allows you to sleep at night knowing that you have created meaning out of death.


While Polly’s years were few, her stature diminutive and her experience was limited, her legacy is as vast as her courage. She inspired us to be bigger, better and more than we otherwise would have been. Through the work of the KlaasKids Foundation her final act has reverberated from the family kitchen table to the president’s cabinet table.

The News of the World is Not All Bad

Like the rest of the world I was appalled at the recent revelations about the phone hacking and illegal wiretapping scandals that have caused Great Britain’s News of the World (NOTW) to shut its doors. Members of senior staff have been arrested for criminal conspiracy and corruption charges. Allegations of bribing police officials, anti-competitive practices, computer and phone hacking among other charges have been leveled at News Corporation and its iconic Chairman Rupert Murdoch. Cell phone messages from celebrities, politicians, and members of the royal family were illegally accessed, creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. However, the incident that really made my skin crawl was learning that thirteen-year-old kidnap and murder victim Milly Dowler’s cell phone account was manipulated by NOTW operatives leading her family and the police to believe that she was still alive. However, it is the NOTW response to another missing child case that I would like revisit.

On July 1, 2000, eight-year-old Sarah Payne disappeared from West Sussex, England. Seventeen days later Sarah’s remains were recovered from a cornfield about fifteen miles away in Pulborough. Convinced that their daughter had been the victim of a sex predator, Sarah’s parents Sara and Michael demanded changes that would be more protective of Great Britain’s children. The Payne’s then joined forces with leading tabloid newspaper News of the World to campaign for life-prison terms for child killers and public access to identifying information on Great Britain’s 110,000 registered sex offenders. The campaign became known as Sarah’s Law.

Utilizing its formidable resources and with broad public support, the newspaper launched a petition drive demanding public access to and longer sentences for convicted sex offenders. The NOTW then published the photographs and addresses of 50 known sex offenders. This action ignited vigilante reprisals despite appeals against violence.

Because of our work to legislate sex offender registration and community notification (Megan’s Law) in the United States, the NOTW contacted KlaasKids and invited us to Great Britain to help advocate on behalf of Sarah’s Law, and counter scathing governmental and conservative media condemnation. During a July, 2000 meeting with British Home Office Junior Secretary Paul Boateng, I was told that the government intervened and warned unsuspecting women only when incarcerated sex offenders place lonely heart ads trolling for single mothers of young children. However, the minister then condemned the NOTW ‘name and shame’ campaign. He stated that community notification was not an option because the government believed that ‘outing’ sex offenders would drive them underground, and that disclosing their addresses would promote vigilantism. I told the Secretary that suggesting that community notification will drive registered sex offenders underground belies the real problem. The offenders are already underground and community notification is a remedy, not a symptom.

The American example of Megan’s Law demonstrated that punitive penalties for failing to comply with the terms of sex offender registration did not force offenders underground: instead, they promoted compliance. Numerous studies also indicated that imposing prison penalty enhancement for individuals who misuse sex offender registration information to exact vigilante justice were effective as very few registered sex offenders had been publicly threatened.

On September 12, 2000 Sara and Michael Payne delivered 700,000 petition signatures to the British Home Office. On September 25, Violet and I returned to Great Britain to join Sara and Michael Payne in addressing the annual Labor Party convention. It was our fervent hope that the British Government, which now stood alone in opposition, would acknowledge the will of the people and replicate America’s bold and successful experiment with community notification.

Unfortunately, it was not to be so. In December 2001, recidivist sex offender Roy Whiting was convicted of murdering Sarah Payne and sentenced to 50-years in prison. In the end it took a more than decade to convince the government and the authorities that Sarah’s Law was sound policy. In April 2011, that the Home Office finally announced that Sarah’s Law would be implemented. Like Megan Kanka’s mother before her, Sara Payne’s belief that her daughter would be alive had she known that a sexual predator lived in her community forced a change in national policy. Now, parents can access information on registered sex offenders in their neighborhood and use the information to protect their children.

During our work on behalf of Sarah’s Law we befriended NOTW editor Rebekah Brooks and her successor Andy Coulson, both of whom now face serious criminal charges. They helped a grieving mother achieve her dream of protecting children through legislative change. Their benevolence seemed genuine as they asked for nothing in return. We were proud of our work on behalf of Sarah’s Law and grateful for the experience, as grueling as it ultimately became.

However,a few months ago it was revealed that the NOTW had also hacked into Sara Payne’s cell phone account. That, in turn, leads me to wonder if they did the same to me after insisting that I use one of their cell phones during our visits across the pond?

DOA: Megan’s Law for the 21st Century

John Gardner, the registered sex offender now serving a life sentence for killing Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, last logged into his MySpace account on Feb.24, 2010, the day before he murdered Chelsea King. An email account linked to Gardner’s profile was registered with MySpace; however the social networking website did not know who he was or what he had done, so they were unable to implement their zero tolerance policy toward registered sex offenders. This is because Megan’s Law does not require California’s 123,821 registered sex offenders to submit email addresses or other forms of Internet identification.
Megan’s Law is based on the premise that convicted sex offenders pose a threat to society and that the public deserves to know when they are in the community. Since Megan’s Law was signed into law and implemented in 1996, all 50-states have registered individuals convicted of felony sex crimes. Law enforcement collects personal, private and identifying information from the registered offenders. They then release some of that information to the public so that we can use it to protect ourselves from known threats in our neighborhoods. Law enforcement maintains all of the information collected from registered sex offenders in secure databases so that it can be used for investigative purposes.
This system served society well until communities expanded beyond our streets and neighborhoods to include Internet based social networking sites. Until social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace have an effective mechanism to monitor registered sex offenders they will continue to exploit the Internet’s anonymity and troll for victims in online communities.

California Senate Bill 57 (SB-57) would have updated Megan’s Law by requiring registered sex offenders to provide law enforcement with their email addresses and other Internet identifiers. Social networking websites would then be able to use that information to monitor or scrub registered sex offender profiles from their online communities.

SB-57 is based on legislation passed in New York in 2008. The Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP), which was sponsored by New York Governor, then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, has thus far successfully removed more than 24,000 social networking profiles belonging to registered sex offenders. SB 57 is also consistent with the federal KIDS Act of 2008, which requires sex offenders to provide email addresses as part of the state regulations.

Unfortunately, this important legislation was placed on the suspense file in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations where it died. The official reason that SB-57 was placed on suspense is that it was thought to be too costly for California to administer. However, in reality SB-57 only required a new form field to be entered onto an existing database. And, compared to the millions of children who would have been protected from the lurid advances of Internet predators like John Gardner who use social networking sites, minor administrative costs are inconsequential.

As has been demonstrated so many times in the past few years, government has failed us yet again. The fate of SB-57 was in the hands of Assembly Committee on Appropriations Chairman Felipe Fuentes (D-San Fernando Valley). Chairman Fuentes had the power to remove SB-57 from the suspense file and put it to the committee for a vote, where it surely would have passed, yet he failed to do so.

We have lost our opportunity to drag Megan’s Law into the 21st Century. Instead children who use social networking sites remain at risk of being victimized by known sexual predators. Our elected leaders have made a stark choice. The safety of California’s children is not a priority.

California Sex Offenders Have a Friend In Sacramento: His Name is Tom Ammiano

On April 26, the California Assembly Public Safety Committee was positioned to do something quietly wonderful for California’s children. Instead they sent a loud and clear message that they are more concerned with the rights of California’s registered sex offenders than they are about the safety of California’s nearly 10-million  children.
Assembly Bill 755 (AB 755) would have created California’s Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act, or CAL E-STOP, which would require sex offenders to register any internet service provider to the California Department of Justice. The Department would then provide this information upon request to third-parties, to allow them to restrict or remove sex offenders from their services.
Sex offender registration laws are necessary because: sex offenders pose a high risk of re-offending after release from custody; protecting the public from sex offenders is a primary governmental interest; the privacy interests of persons convicted of sex offenses are less important than the government’s interest in public safety; and the release of certain information about sex offenders to public agencies and the general public will assist in protecting the public safety.
Megan’s Law built a community notification component into already mandated sex offender registration laws. It is named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka who was kidnapped from her front yard, raped and brutally murdered by a recidivist sex offending neighbor in 1994.
Community notification assists law enforcement in investigations; establishes legal grounds to hold known offenders; deters sex offenders from committing new offenses; and offers citizens information they can use to protect children from victimization.
In California convicted sex offenders are required to register annually with local law enforcement. As part of the process they are required to reveal certain personal and identifying information. Internet identifiers such as email addresses and IM handles are not required simply because the Internet was not a factor in the mid-90’s when sex offender registration and community notification laws were written. CAL E-STOP would have dragged Megan’s Law into the 21st Century by adding a new form field to the Megan’s Law registration form that will compel them to provide Internet identifiers, so that that information can be used to protect children from victimization and exploitation.
Support for CAL E-STOP was as impressive as it was expansive. California law enforcement associations, victim’s rights groups, and child advocacy organizations among others stood solidly behind the proposed legislation. Facebook, which had never before taken a stand, publicly favored CAL E-STOP because they want to provide a safe environment for their vast community. We even had a letter from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Chief of Staff endorsing the intent of CAL E-STOP, which was modeled after a law in New York that has successfully removed more than 11,000 registered sex offenders from Facebook and MySpace since 2009.
Opposition included: Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; California Coalition for Women Prisoners; California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, and the ACLU.
With their 4 – 3 vote against CAL E-STOP, the California Public Safety Committee has failed to close the door on tens of thousands of registered sex offenders and sexual predators who will use social networking sites to prey on California’s children. We now know that they have blood on their hands. What we don’t know is just how much.