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Jessica's Law and the Homeless Culture

Updated on August 1, 2014
So Many Ruined Lives ... The Never Ending Cycle Spreads ...
So Many Ruined Lives ... The Never Ending Cycle Spreads ... | Source

Jessica Lunsford

Jessica's Law
Jessica's Law | Source

Jessica Lunsford

In February of 2005 in the state of Florida, nine year old Jessica Lunsford was
kidnapped, raped and buried alive by a man who had a “long criminal record,
including [previous] sexual offenses and drug addiction” (Greenblatt, 2006,
vol.16, issue 31). Jessica’s death led to the creation of a new law named after
the young victim. “Voters are expected to approve a particularly strict version
of the law in November. Congress also enacted a law this year that will prod
states to track sex offenders more closely” (Greenblatt, 2006, vol. 16, issue
31).

This law was crafted from one extremely rare and high profile case, and
hastily signed into legislation within a year of the incident. According to Ben
Jones, “Fourty-four states have passed some version of Jessica’s Law, a measure
establishing long mandatory sentences and lifelong electronic monitoring for
offenders” (Jones, TODAY USA). The rush to push Jessica Lunsford’s horrific case failed to give people enough time to think ahead about how certain provisions of this law would have consequences that would undermine the very thing they were trying to enhance, public safety.

The Broad Scope of Sex Crimes

The offenses that are considered to be criminal sex offenses are extremely broad, and once convicted, will tarnish the offender’s record for life. Some of those offenses “include but are not limited to non-violent, non-contact offenses such as:

  • public urination
  • streaking
  • sexting
  • consensual teen sex

Jessica's Law Exposes the Public to an Increase of Sex Offenders

Jessica’s Law, while well intentioned, has become a danger to public safety and even more dangerous for our children.

How can we be sure that our children are safe when there are convicted child predators roaming around with untreated mental issues, untreated drug addictions, hungry, bored, homeless and agitated?

This law gives the public a false sense of security because the public feel better knowing that it "Prohibits Sex Offenders From Residing Near Schools or Parks". What the public fail to realize is that this homeless sex offender status unfortunately places communities at higher risk by increasing public exposure to potentially violent criminal behavior.

Removing the residency restriction piece of Jessica’s Law would enhance public and child safety by decreasing exposure to sex offenders.

As the Crow Flies, 2,000 feet, Prop 83, Jessica's Law, Sex Offender, Residency Restriction,
As the Crow Flies, 2,000 feet, Prop 83, Jessica's Law, Sex Offender, Residency Restriction, | Source

2,000 Feet as the Crow Flies

One provision of Jessica’s Law is a residency restriction that prohibits all
registered sex offenders from residing in any home if it is ‘as the crow flies’
measured to be within 2,000 feet of a park or a school, making it nearly
impossible for parolees to find any legal housing. Although this could
initially seem like an effective solution in reducing a sex offender’s access
to groups of children, this piece of Jessica’s Law does absolutely no such
thing to increase the safety of children. Nowhere in Jessica’s Law does it say
that convicted sex offenders are prohibited from hanging out in a park during
the day, it only says that they cannot hang out there for more than 2 hours at
a time. Seems that if a child predator wanted to victimize a child, it would
not take them more than 2 hours to do so. With this law in place, we now we
have to worry about our children running into violent as well as non-violent
sex offenders as soon as they leave the safety of school property as well as the
safety of their own front yard. To have parolees who have been convicted of
various sex related offenses be wandering around homeless, jobless, hungry,
agitated and not rehabilitated in every nook and cranny of our community does
not seem like an effective way to increase or promote public safety. The number
of homeless sex offenders is “outrageously high. It’s one of our biggest gaps
in public safety,” said Tom Tobin, vice chairman of the California Sex Offender
Management Board.

Homeless Culture

Where will they all go?
Where will they all go? | Source
Law Enforcement
Law Enforcement | Source

Public Safety Concerns

Jessica’s Law kicks thousands of convicted sex offenders into the streets, alleyways and riverbeds, regardless of whether they are violent or have ever touched a child.

So, how does this outcome increase public safety? It, in fact undermines it. It would make more sense to mandate the offender to reside wherever is necessary in order to make it possible for law enforcement and parole officers to maintain constant awareness of the location of convicted sex offenders around the clock, similar to a House Arrest situation.

Society would be safer from potential child predators to keep sex offenders off of the streets and according to Sgt. Peter Hahn with the Los Angeles County sheriff’s special victim’s unit, “Residency restrictions have indeed backfired … Basically, it’s hard to keep track (of the homeless), so they could be out doing things they’re not supposed to” (Kyle, 2014, p. 1, par. 18-19).

Uhhmm ... DUUUHH!

Vicious Cycle

Many homeless shelters and addiction rehabilitation programs do not allow convicted sex offenders into their facilities. This forces them to become homeless as they continue their destructive lifestyle on the streets.
Many homeless shelters and addiction rehabilitation programs do not allow convicted sex offenders into their facilities. This forces them to become homeless as they continue their destructive lifestyle on the streets. | Source

A Set Up For Failure

Jessica’s Law undermines offender rehabilitation efforts. We would be more likely to
increase public safety if sex offenders were offered drug addiction and alcoholism treatment and other related services. Convicted sex offenders have slim to none chances of rehabilitating or becoming mentally healthy because they are not allowed to access the resources they’d need to become well or stable.

Studies have shown that the majority of sex offenders have some degree of an issue with drug abuse and or alcoholism. Even though most sex offenders have addiction and alcoholism, residential drug treatment programs will not allow convicted sex offenders to step foot on their properties and most homeless shelters do not allow sex offenders to stay there either. Sex offenders are under strict terms with parole that prohibit them from leaving the county where they committed their crime because they have to check in with their parole officer from time to time.

GPS Ankle Monitor

GPS Ankle Monitor, Sex Offenders, Jessica's Law, Megan's Law.
GPS Ankle Monitor, Sex Offenders, Jessica's Law, Megan's Law. | Source

Who Profits from the Increase of Sex Offenders ...

Among the entities that abuse Jessica’s Law, one of them happens to be the GPS corporations who have figured out ways to make profit off of the recidivism of parolees in the criminal justice system by supporting the enforcement of Jessica’s Law onto offenders who have not harmed children. Originally Jessica’s Law required that all convicted ‘child predators’ wear GPS ankle monitor devices for the rest of their lives, but the umbrella of what a sex-offender is has broadened significantly to encompass people who have committed non-violent offenses and offenses that do not include minors or children. “As of August 29 [2012] there were 9,912 sex offenders on parole in the state, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Of those, 6,968 were in communities subject to Jessica’s Law and 2,077 were considered high risk” (Broder, 2012, para. 5). According to Pro Tech Monitoring, a Florida based provider of tracking systems for criminals, “With passage of the new legislation, things have gotten busy for the company, to say the least” (Brown, 2005). Could this trend have anything to do with the contracts between the GPS companies and the parole system, who all profit off of the recidivism of sex offenders through the prison system? “There are an estimated 736,000 registered sex offenders out there; satellite tracking equipment costs anywhere from $15 -$20 per person per day, which is an expense paid for by the parolees” (Sheppard, 2011, vol. 36, no. 6:12). This fine print fact was not something that the voters were made aware of when they urgently voted for Prop 83.

Homeless people everywhere. Some are dangerous. Some are not. This is not safe for anybody.
Homeless people everywhere. Some are dangerous. Some are not. This is not safe for anybody. | Source

Conclusion

Sometimes when society wishes to protect one segment of people, laws are established that violate the constitutional rights of the others.

Thousands of non-violent offenders are forced into homelessness and hopelessness every year because their families live too close to a park or a school. Not only is this an extremely unfortunate situation for the non-violent, non-child predators, but it is unfortunate for the entire community to have an increase in homeless people, never knowing if ‘that homeless guy’ is a potential threat to their child as they pass by on public sidewalks, and ironically even while strolling past us through the park.

Regardless of the wide variety of said sex-crimes, each sex offender is treated the same as a forceful child predator. Contrary to popular belief, convicted sex offenders aren’t going to just disappear or go away because of Jessica’s Law. In fact, with Jessica’s Law in place, it is going to become harder and harder to ignore the plethora of sex offenders as they pile up on the sidelines of our communities with nothing but the deterioration of their untreated ill minds to rely upon for help.

Works Cited

Bailey/Courthouse News Service, L. (2012, September 14). Judge Rules San Diego Sex Offender

Residency Restrictions Unreasonable | KPBS. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/sep/14/judge-rules-san-diego-sex-offender-residency-restr/

Broder, K. (2012, September 17). Controversies - Court Blocks Virtual Residency Ban on Paroled Sex

Offenders - Ca - News. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from http://www.allgov.com/usa/ca/news/controversies/court-blocks-virtual-residency-ban-on-paroled-sex-offenders-120917?news=845325

Brown, Karen. 2005. “Wireless Leash.” Wireless Week 11, no. 12: 22. MasterFILE Premier,

EBSCOhost (accessed February 17, 2014).

Greenblatt, A. (2006, September 8). Sex Offenders. Retrieved from

photo.pds.org:5012/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2006090813

Jones, Ben, and TODAY USA. n.d. “States hurry laws named for victims.” USA Today, n.d.

Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed February 17, 2014).

Kyle, K. (2014, April 26). Where are sex offenders? Jessica's Law complicates monitoring - The Orange

County Register. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from http://www.ocregister.com/articles/offenders-611517-sex-law.html

Langevin, PhD, R., & Lang, PhD, R. A. (1990). Substance abuse among sex offenders - Springer. Retrieved

May 1, 2014, from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00850442#page-1

“RSOL” Reform Sex Offender Laws (2014). FAQ | CA RSOL. Retrieved April 23, 2014, from

http://californiarsol.org/faq/

Sheppard, Kate. 2011. “TO CASH IN ON A PREDATOR.” Mother Jones 36, no. 6:12.

MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOHOST (accessed February 17, 2014).

Zimmerman, Malia. "9-Year-Old Jessica Lunsford - Murdered By a Repeat Sex Offender - Inspires

Lawmakers in 3 More States to Introduce Tougher Legislation." 9-Year-Old Jessica

Lunsford – Murdered By a Repeat Sex Offender – Inspires Lawmakers in 3 More States

to Introduce Tougher Legislation. Hawaii Reporter, 12 Feb. 2013. Web. 05 May 2014.

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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Aplethorna,

      Superb hub. This is an excellent piece of writing. Honestly, I can easily describe it as amazing.

      I loved every word. Graphics were superb. This hub was helpful, informative and I found it very interesting.

      Voted up and all the choices, but FUNNY, because you deserve it.

      You have such a gift for writing. Keep writing no matter what.

      Sincerely,

      Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama

    • Franciscan profile image

      Scott Harvey 3 years ago from St Louis

      I was convicted back in 2000 and served a total of 9 years on probation. During my probation I was required to fill out a schedule a week in advance every week outlining my location, time that I would leave the house, time I arrived at a destination....location of that destination, time I left the destination...time I returned home. Anything outside of that was considered being "out of pocket" and would result in a violation. I was also subject to random home searches, computer forensic analysis, quarterly polygraphs by a former FBI forensics expert who not only ran the company, but also develops polygraph equipment and technology. This is a very stringent and restrictive way to live...but lets face it, I put myself in that situation and therefore had no right to complain. In that state, they also extend community notification to door to door flyers as well as a county and state website. I was threatened numerous times, and shot at once.....but again....WHO'S fault was it? MINE.

      Even now that I've been off of probation for 5 years, it can be tedious finding a landlord that is willing to rent to a registered offender...and this is something that is to be expected and accepted.

      Bottom line, when you live a blameworthy life, you must accept blame....when you live a praiseworthy life...then expect the same consideration of others who do the same.

      Does the system need to be reviewed and reformed? Perhaps in some cases, but again, those who choose to test the system, can expect to be tested in return.

      I can only vouch for how I live today and every day hence....know what I've done and be vigilant...if through this you find that I appear to be leading a law abiding life...it's because I am.....but KNOW that I fully accept and admit to what I've done, and have no blame for those that view me with a jaundiced eye. As for vigilantes that choose to commit acts of harassment and murder in some misguided effort to "cleanse society"...be aware that you are a murderer who chooses to kill those you don't like...and what makes you any more of a comfort to society than I? Whom will you choose to dislike next...homosexuals? Jews? Republicans? People that grow tomatoes?????

      The answer is education. If you take a feral dog into your home and nurture it with love, discipline, safety.....you will eventually wind up with a domesticated pet. Conversely, if you turn your poodle out into the wild...it will become a liability not only itself, but since it has only know the company of people, it will remain in that company...thus becoming a liability to everyone...if it does not die from neglect.

      When forced to live homeless and untreated....a person becomes desperate. Unable to get a job, one has no money...if one has no money, they cannot feed an addiction. When that addiction goes unfed, they turn to crime. Now we have a sex offender AND burglar /thief/mugger.

      Lack of education and training (it takes TRAINING to change a habit, not restrictions) leads to ignorance and poor choices. I think Albert Einstein said it best: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."