CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Federal Judge Halts Enforcement of Jessica's Law Based on Constitutionality

From U.S District Court Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco on Wednesday halted enforcement of a Jessica's Law intended, among other provisions, to bar sex offenders from living near California's parks and schools.

One day after 70 percent of voters passed it, Illston ruled a controversial provision of Proposition 83 -- also known as Jessica's Law -- had a ``substantial likelihood'' of being unconstitutional.

Banishing a sex offender from living in his or her home could be ``punitive in design and effect'' and deprive the already-punished offender of their rights, Illston said in ruling on a lawsuit filed by an anonymous sex offender who lives in the Bay Area.

A full hearing on the matter is scheduled for Nov. 27. If Illston finds the law is indeed unconstitutional, it could protect the 60,000-plus offenders already living throughout the state from having to comply with the restriction.

Legal challenges were widely expected against the proposition, which has caused much confusion over its legality, practicality, cost and effectiveness in stopping predatory sex crimes against children. Critics have said the 2,000-foot ``Predator Free Zones'' would push thousands of sex offenders out of cities and into homelessness or underground. More lawsuits are likely to be filed in coming weeks against other facets of the proposition, which also requires electronic monitoring of offenders. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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