California's homeless sex offenders on parole up 800%

[Ed: Yes, this was entirely predictable well before it was overwhelmingly supported by California voters several years ago. It made no more sense then than it does now. That, however, would be to miss the point.

These measures are not supposed to make any practical sense nor are they informed by rational, intelligent public policy impulses. No, they are about hating and punishing, even torturing, offenders beyond the punishments they have already received. This is revenge, pure and simple.

That the public does not have anything like a clear understanding of who most of these men are (and they are, mostly, men) they see in these measures the opportunity to give full expression to their collective rage, regardless of its actual source.

For the same reasons that the lynching of blacks in the Jim Crow South made no sense, these laws make no sense. In either case, their motives are closer to the reptilian than to the rational and are instead an opportunity to inflict pain on a largely abstract subgroup of humans. They serve no legitimate purpose nor will they result in beneficial outcomes for society.

But try explaining that to the mob. ]

Homeless sex offenders on parole jumps sharply

The number of homeless sex offenders on parole in California has increased dramatically since the approval two years ago of Proposition 83, an initiative that imposed harsh restrictions on where they can live, a state panel reported Thursday.

The Sex Offender Management Board said the number of parolees monitored by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation -- one of the only government agencies to enforce what is known as Jessica's Law -- increased from 88 in November 2006 to 1,056 at the end of June 2008.

"Common sense leads to the conclusion that a community cannot be safer when sex offenders are homeless," the report states, citing research concluding that unstable housing can lead to recidivism.

Jessica's Law, which prohibits sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of schools and parks where children play, was proposed by state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) and his wife, Sharon, a former assemblywoman, and strongly backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

When the state board looked at its effect on housing for all sex offenders, including those not on parole against whom the law has not generally been enforced, it found homelessness had increased 60%. Potential solutions mentioned included housing multiple sex offenders in the same place and putting them in mobile trailers until they can find a permanent home.

The governor's office said Thursday that Schwarzenegger still "strongly supports Jessica's Law, which all involved concede needs fine-tuning." Neither the governor nor the law's other sponsors have offered proposals to amend it.

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