Study says nearly 70 percent of sex offenders live near schools - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Study says nearly 70 percent of sex offenders live near schools or parks

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - When Jessica's Law was passed in California in 2006, it placed restrictions on where released sex offenders could live. You might be surprised to know that nearly 70 percent of sex offenders in the county live near schools and parks.

When voters approved Jessica's Law three years ago, they wanted a tighter restriction on where registered sex offenders could live regarding schools and parks.

In San Diego County, the sex offender residence compliance was set at 2,000 feet. According to the State Attorney General's Office, as of Nov. 17 of this year, 73 percent of the offenders' addresses made public are in violation, and 27 percent are not.

Critics say the law is poorly worded and has no penalties if the restrictions are ignored.

"It dredges up old offenses, many of which had nothing to do with children, and forces people into homelessness, cutting off their ability to establish family connections and jobs and stable housing," Constitutional law attorney Ernest Galvan said.

Galvan represents two paroled San Diego County registered sex offenders who are challenging the residency restrictions.

"All you're doing is creating desperation, poverty, disease and crime, and that's a hallmark of a law that's simply oppressive and unconstitutional and the Supreme Court needs to step in and strike it down," Galvan said.

Chula Vista is one county city which has relaxed state restrictions by barring sex offenders from living within 500 feet of a park or school that has K-8 students. Checking an area bordered by Highway 54 on the north, Interstate 5 on the west, the 805 to the east and L Street to the south, there are at least 20 schools.

With the 500-foot rule, there is nearly 80 percent of the area available for sex offenders to live in, but under Jessica's Law's 2,000-foot restriction, they have less than five percent to occupy.

"We're following Jessica's Law to the letter of the law. That would create a big burden on the rural areas, because as some maps will show, if you have a 2,000-foot buffer with all the schools and parks and other areas where children gather, there's really no place for them to go, and that can remove them from other support environments they might have with family members," Chula Vista Police Department Capt. Leonard Miranda said.

The State Supreme Court is expected to rule in February on the case involving the two San Diego County men represented by Ernest Galvan.

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