Sex offenders in California may be able to breathe a little bit easier if the state board that oversees its 100,000-person registry has anything to do with it.
According to a recent report from SFGate.com, the California Sex Offender Management Board plans to “thin out and overhaul” the list because they say it is “too big and does not help law enforcement or the public differentiate between offenders who pose significant risks and those not likely to reoffend.”
The state’s legislature will soon hear a recommendation from the governing body of the registration that only high-risk sex offenders, “such as kidnappers and sexually violent predators,” should be forced to register for life. If a perpetrator were to go “10 or 20 years” without a second offense, then they would be removed altogether.
That’s speaking in convictions, mind you. Many sex crimes go unreported until long after the fact, and some never are reported. It’s not clear how this decision would affect those cases.
The current registration was criticized by the board as “unwieldy,” because California requires all sex offenders, “regardless of the type of offense, to register for life,” the news site reported.
According to a report released by the board in April, the current registry has led to having many sex offenders listed, “who do not necessarily pose a risk to the community.”
This includes close to 900 whose last sex crime was more than 55 years ago, the report added.
“People are very concerned about this,” said Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore (Riverside County), who said she has discussed similar proposals with her constituents in the past. “I’m open and willing to be educated on the issue, but I’m not saying now I’m leaning toward it.”
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who supports the changes, said: “It’s a radioactive issue to a lot of people. Understandably. But, this can’t be ignored.”
The registry for California’s sex offenders was created in 1947 as a tracking tool for law enforcement officials. Today, the registry allows police agencies to notify the public about sex offenders who pose a risk and offers the public a way of searching online for sex offenders who may be registered in their neighborhoods.
Again, the concerning thing for many opponents, is that sex offenders will be free and clear to seize new opportunities for resuming their crimes. Since many are repeat offenders, the lack of supervision could make it more likely for them to act on impulse and opportunity.
That being said, it might not be quite as crazy as issuing sex offenders gun permits, but for many, particularly victims of such crimes, that’s little consolation.
What do you think, readers — has the California board lost its collective mind or does it have a point?
[Image via ShutterStock]