News 8 Investigation: Whatever happened to Jessica's Law? - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

News 8 Investigation: Whatever happened to Jessica's Law?

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POWAY, Calif. (CBS 8) - A News 8 Investigation revealed major flaws when it comes to tracking sex offenders, and now we dig deeper. As it turns out, the majority of California voters want tougher laws on the books.

Rulette Armstead lives three minutes away from Poway High School. Her granddaughter goes to school there and knew Chelsea King.

"I can basically contain the rage but whenever something like this happens you can't help but be upset about it," she said.

Armstead is the former assistant chief for the San Diego Police Department in charge of the sex crimes unit, so who better to ask about sexual predators like John Gardner, who get to roam the land after prison and parole.

"I don't think we have a solution right now," she said.

Armstead says first and foremost police officers are bound by murky laws filled with loopholes that favor sex offenders.

In the year 2006, California voters passed Proposition 83 -- known as "Jessica's Law". One of the basic goals of that law was supposed to prevent sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and parks. It sounds reasonable, but four years after voters passed that law, the court challenges continue and many sex offenders are still living wherever they want.

On the Megan's Law web site, John Gardner claimed to be living in Lake Elsinore. Instead he was staying at his mother's house in Rancho Bernardo. Police call it an absurd type of honor system where society expects people like Gardner to follow the rules.

We've all heard the saying 'Follow the money.' The problem is when it comes to tracking down sex offenders, there is no money, or at least not enough to do the job right. In fact, several officers have told News 8 more time and resources are spent tracking down car thieves.

"You don't have insurance companies that are going to come out and help you find sex offenders. Insurance companies have a stake in stolen cars, but who has a stake in sex offenders? Perhaps the families, but again we are not going to get money from those sources," Armstead said.

Armstead says there will never be enough money or officers to fix the problem, and measures that could make society safer like GPS tracking systems that could easily monitor predators for life as well as civil commitment trailers that prevent offenders from moving next door to you often violate the constitutional rights of convicts.

The American Civil Liberties Union, who has funded the Jessica's Law challenge, refused to be interviewed for this story.

The people of Poway have plenty to say right now, but what happens when this sea of tears and rage dies down? Armstead says she thinks more children will die before real change happens.

"I hate to be callous about it but I think… that's going to occur before we can make real change," she said.

Jessica's Law isn't dead, but it's certainly on life support. The state's Supreme Court ordered further hearings to discuss how the law that voters approved is violating the rights of sex offenders.

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