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.

8 thoughts on “California: Don’t Screw with the Sex Offender Registry

  1. I nominate Marc Klaas for governor! SO intelligent, well educated, passionate, & kind. I look up to & give you the biggest nod of approval, Marc.

  2. The system is not going to keep track of over 100,000 registered sex offenders. There are people on that list that did horrible things to young children there are also people on that list who are on that list because they looked at underage porn on the web. The system needs to be changed so the resources can be used to keep track of the true predators

  3. Pursuant to Chelsea’s Law, AB 1844, the California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) was created under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and includes the Chief of the Department of State Hospitals, Sex Offender Commitment Program. The purpose of CASOMB is to serve as a resource for the Legislature and the Governor. CASOMB addresses any issues, concerns, and problems related to the community management of the state’s adult sex offenders, with a goal of safer communities and reduced victimization. CASOMB is required to conduct a thorough assessment of current management practices for adult sex offenders, submit a report of their assessment to the Legislature, and develop recommendations to improve management practices for those offenders. Do you presume to be more of an authority on sex offender management than these 15 professionals? Don’t screw with California, Mr. Klass.

    More information on CASOMB can be found at their website at www.casomb.org.

    • Personally, I find it interesting that handling all classifications of felons as “victims of circumstance” has run rampant only after Jerry Brown became Governor in 2011. The Governor has power over appointments and his philosophy is represented by the decisions made by his appointees. Oh, and it is Klaas, not Klass

      • I find it interesting that you feel like you have the authority to endlessly punish a specific group of offenders just because of how you feel. The truth is that sex offender registries are a hateful vindictive response to tragedy in the community. The laws are truthfully and factually unconstitutional however, the laws make people feel better and it is unpopular to oppose the laws so they have had a lengthy supportive run in our society. Things are about to change and hopefully truth and constitutionality will win.

  4. The information on 30,421 offenders which you mention, which is not published, remains private to PROTECT THE VICTIM. These are incest-type cases, where information is retained by law enforcement but not publicized to protect the victim’s privacy. Sadly, the vast majority of child sexual abuse is perpetrated within the child’s own home or close social circle, not by persons on the Megans Law registry, so the registry gives at best a false sense of safety.
    It is also my understanding that the number of people required to register in the United States is over 750,000; 106,000+ in California alone.

  5. Updates are interesting to read, however, is there anything the average person can do to help with these issues? A petition on change.org or a letter writing campaign? I help with a local cause and they share an effectively worded form letter to copy and paste and send to the Senator/Congressmen of our districts with hearing dates so letter writers don’t miss deadlines. With your vast experience with legislators, getting a properly worded letter to the appropriate parties would help people like me feel like we can help to make change. I have written my Congressman on issues of less importance and I would want to get it right on something this important. Myself and others could also share the form letters and hearing dates among other friends and sites. If this is something you could easily do along with your other updates, I would participate. Thanks for all you do Mark.

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