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AB 632: Sex Offenders
An open letter to Governor Schwarzenegger...
[by Todd Spitzer] 9/14/05

I am writing to request your signature of AB 632 (Chu and Spitzer, Runner Principal Co-Author). This bill presents an opportunity for you to advance public safety by strengthening the supervision of violent sex offenders in order to better protect the public.

AB 632 creates a sex offender management board that will address issues, concerns and troubles related to the management of adult sex offenders. Since the introduction of this bill, I have been in close contact with Assemblymember Chu and her staff because this legislation, for the first time, will require a full assessment of our state’s treatment and monitoring of sex offenders; the lack of which has created serious threats to public safety.

Guest Contributor
Todd Spitzer

Mr. Spitzer is a mermber of the California Assembly representing Orange County [go to Guest index]

A December 2004 report by the California State Auditor entitled “Sex Offender Placement: Departments That Are Responsible for Placing Sex Offenders Face Challenges, and Some Need to Better Monitor Their Costs” stated that the Department of Developmental Services is not provided with the patient’s criminal history prior to placement in the community. This disjointed system cripples the Department of Developmental Services to adequately assess the needs of the patient and creates significant public safety concerns as patients have been placed in residential care facilities in close proximity to nearby schools and daycare facilities.

Community leaders, law enforcement agencies and concerned residents recognize that inefficient communication between state and county agencies responsible for sex offender management have lead to blatant violations of state law. Among the most dangerous violations is housing more than six sex offenders per residential facility, as allowed by state law.

Penal Code Section 3003.5 states that those required to register pursuant to Section 290 may not reside in single family dwellings with other sex offenders required to register pursuant to Section 290. However, there is an exemption for residential facilities that serve six or fewer persons. Yet, over 20 sex offenders were found to be residing in a sober living home located at 1932 Rochester Circle in the City of Los Angeles. This house, owned by the Eddie Rochester Anderson Foundation, was intended to be a place where drug addicts and recovering alcoholics seek rehabilitation and counseling. This location was chosen and used by Parole to warehouse more than 20 sex offenders, well over the limit allowed by state law.

In a similar incident, eight registered sex offenders were removed from a sober living home in Pasadena where at one point, as many as 12 sex offenders were housed. This home, located at 280 W. Washington Blvd., is less than a half-mile from Cleveland Elementary School. Several of the sex offenders who resided at this facility were convicted of crimes against children.

When asked about the situations at 1932 Rochester Circle and 280 W. Washington Blvd., the Department of Corrections Parole Division stated that their department is not responsible for monitoring the number of paroled sex offenders per household. It was further explained that this responsibility is left to the owner and manager of the home, a proprietor who is motivated by monetary gain, to determine if the facility has reached its state-mandated capacity of sex offenders.

The Department of Mental Health, which manages the placement of Sexually Violent Predators (SVP), attempted to place Douglas Badger near San Diego State University. Convicted over twenty times, Mr. Badger is a habitual sex offender that preys on men from 18 to 29 years of age. It was the lack of communication and oversight that nearly allowed a Sexually Violent Predator to be placed in his prime target area. In addition, according to San Diego Supervisor Ron Roberts, the facility in which Mr. Badger would have been placed was in the same complex as other convicted sex offenders required to register pursuant to P.C. 290.

These situations are not a result of negligence on the part of any department or agency, but are the result of poor or absent communication within and between departments responsible for handling sex offender placement. California has the unique distinction of being the most populous state in the union that does not have a separate agency designated solely to handle sex offender management. Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Tennessee and Minnesota are just a few states that have such departments.

The Office of Domestic Violence and Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB) in Colorado was created by a legislative mandate in 1992 with the charge of developing standards and guidelines for the evaluation, treatment, and behavioral monitoring of sex offenders. Additionally, the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment develops and implements policy which provides education concerning effective interventions and management of sex offenders.

Separate departments such as these are essential in ensuring both the safety of those on parole as well as the residents around the homes in which parolees are placed. The departments listed above work to ensure that sex offenders are provided with treatment when necessary, but more importantly, these departments monitor sex offender placement and behavior. The creation of a similar department in California is imperative to maintain the safety of families and quality of life for residents of this state.

Any political concerns that may exist regarding this legislation are superseded by the necessity to protect communities from sex offenders. This is not a partisan issue; this is a public safety issue. Effective interaction between all departments delegated with the responsibility of dealing with sex offenders is of paramount concern for all residents of this state.

California communities are home to more than 100,000 registered sex offenders who have been released from incarceration. An estimated 14,000 to 25,000 currently reside in California prisons and an additional unknown number in county jails. Almost all convicted sex offenders will eventually return to our communities, with a short period of time under direct supervision, either on parole, probation or conditional release. It is imperative that during this period of time when sex offenders are under direct supervision, there is a comprehensive and cohesive network of interventions available to control the behavior of sex offenders and prevent recidivism and future victimization.

Convicted sex offenders and their placement in our residential communities will always remain a key concern for residents, community activists, law enforcement officials and policy makers. We must be diligent in our obligation to protect communities and our children from this constant threat. The aforementioned failures in communication between agencies demonstrate the absolute need for the California Sex Offender Management Board.

AB 632 passed the Senate Floor by a vote of 36 to 0 and the Assembly Floor by a vote of 77 to 0. AB 632 represents the willingness of the Legislature to tackle the issue of sex offenders in our communities in a bipartisan fashion.

Thank you for your favorable consideration of this matter. tOR






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