County says sex offenders compliant
Nevada County officials said Thursday they know of no sex offenders in the county who are in violation of new residency requirements put in place last fall by voter-initiated Proposition 83.
Statewide, about 2,100 recently paroled sex offenders are living illegally near California’s schools and parks, the state corrections secretary said this week.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will give the state’s new parolees 45 days to find a new place to live, a policy adopted by the corrections department in late June.
“It’s a huge undertaking,” said county Sheriff’s Investigation Unit Administrative Assistant Nancy Anderson, who keeps track of sex offenders in the sheriff’s jurisdiction.
The residency requirement will apply only to offenders paroled after Jessica’s Law was passed on election day ” Nov. 7, 2006.
“We want to be public that we have some people who are out of compliance, but … we are fully committed, and the governor is fully committed, to complying with the housing component of Jessica’s Law,” James Tilton, director of the corrections department, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Voters passed the Jessica’s Law ballot initiative with 70-percent approval. It prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet, or two-fifths of a mile, of a school or park.
According to an investigation by The Union in November, at least 10 sex offenders appearing on the state’s Megan’s Law Web site live within 2,000 feet of a school or park in Nevada County.
There could be more, according to the sheriff’s office. Some sex offenders must register with law enforcement, but are not listed on the Megan’s Law Web site, depending on the nature of their offenses.
None of those offenders were paroled after Prop. 83 was voted in, according to sheriff’s records, so they would not have to move under the state’s new residency requirements.
171 offenders in Nevada County
The state parole unit notified Anderson of one local sex offender who was paroled since November 2006, and he now lives in Placer County, Anderson said. He was released July 1 from Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, she said.
One more local offender, in Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe, is expected to be paroled on Sept. 7, Anderson said. It is not known where he plans to live after his release from prison, though he had formerly registered within Grass Valley city limits.
The release dates of registrants, Anderson said, are subject to change.
One sex offender moved to Grass Valley after his release from prison in the last few years, and he also has moved out of the area, Grass Valley Police reported.
Registered sex offenders must inform their parole officers of their addresses within 24 hours of their release from prison, Anderson said.
“The parole agent has to verify the address is not within 2,000 feet of a school or park,” she said. “The 2,000-foot law is also posted in the lobby of the parole office and the parolee is informed of the law while he is still incarcerated. They’re definitely made aware of this requirement.”
A total of 171 sex offenders live in Nevada County, including 35 in the Nevada City area and 26 in Grass Valley city limits, according to Anderson and the Grass Valley Police Department.
Thousands may be displaced
Opponents of Prop. 83 had warned the measure would push sex offenders out of towns and cities, disproportionately affecting rural areas that would become a refuge for parolees. Corrections officials previously warned that the residency restrictions effectively prevent parolees from living in many of California’s cities.
“There are many communities where housing is a problem,” Tilton told the AP.
The state corrections department recently completed a review of the registered addresses of sex offenders who have been paroled since the November election.
Parolees who refuse to move face the possibility of being sent back to prison for violation of their parole.
Tilton said corrections officials will begin going through the list “case by case” to determine if all the 2,100 parolees who appear to be in violation of the residency provisions are indeed living too close to parks and schools.
“I don’t know how successful they will be in enforcing this,” Anderson said.
The department began reviewing the addresses after the co-author of Jessica’s Law, state Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, asked about the initiative’s implementation.
“I’m disappointed they did not seem to have an orderly plan in place from the very start,” Runner told the AP.
Runner said he doubted the law will force sex offenders onto the street, but said he is willing to amend it if housing becomes a problem.
Tilton also defended the department’s actions since the law took effect. He told the AP that officials had to wait for the outcome of legal challenges over which parolees were affected by Jessica’s Law.
Courts have ruled that it applies only to inmates freed after the measure was approved.
California’s Proposition 83 was named for Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old Florida girl who was kidnapped, raped and suffocated by a convicted sex offender in 2005. Her killer is now awaiting sentencing.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4236.
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