Sex Crime Loophole Closure Act Introduced

Ed: Yes, those pesky "loopholes" which have provided judges with some level of discretion in sentencing are the target of yet another ambitious legislator. Although lacking imagination ("worst-of-the-worst", "sexually violent predators", etc.) he will, no doubt, effectively conjure forth the 'anti-demons' amongst Californians and his constituency and rally the press behind his distorted view of reality. A reality that defines "sexually violent" as having sex with someone under the age of 14 - no further "violence" necessary. And of course he's talking about JUVENILE OFFENDERS. Hmmm.... sounds like kids fooling around to me. But I'm sure Pedro Nava NEVER engaged in sexual exploration as a child! Surely not!

Sex Crime Loophole Closure Act Introduced by Assemblymember Pedro Nava

Sacramento–California State Assemblymember Pedro Nava announced the introduction of the Sex Crime Loophole Closure Act, a measure to protect our communities from sexually violent predators.

"We need to make sure that the worst of the worst offenders do not inflict more harm on our neighborhoods," said Nava. "This measure provides vital protections to victims, their families and communities from sexually violent predators."

AB 61, The Sex Crime Loophole Closure Act, will prohibit authorities from granting "deferred entry of judgment" to juveniles who have committed sex offenses. Deferred judgment can be used to "launder" or expunge egregious sex crimes from a juvenile´s record. This measure will stop the practice of sending juveniles straight to probation if they have committed egregious sex crimes.

Said Harriet Salarno, Chair, Crime Victims United of California (CVUC), "Crime Victims United of California appreciates Assemblyman Nava´s commitment to ensuring juveniles who commit sex crimes have complete records by eliminating their opportunity for deferred entry of judgment. The nature of sex crimes committed by juveniles provides good insight into the individual´s potential sexual and violent tendencies as an adult. Research shows that many sex offenders began their sexually abusive behavior as juveniles. It is for this reason CVUC supports AB 61 and the protection from these offenders it offers to victims."

Said Ron Cottingham, President of the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), "AB 61 will close the longstanding loophole created by Proposition 21 in 2000 that allows juveniles who are sexually violent predators to get a "slap on the wrist", be allowed on local probation and have these violent crimes erased from their records. Proposition 21 prevents these juvenile offenders from obtaining necessary treatment and further endangers the citizens of their community."

In Memorium: Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, 1923 – 2008

Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, Nobel prize winner for his groundbreaking work in isolating and identifying the bizarre and deadly cause of "kuru", a disease affecting especially those of New Guinea, and closely related to Creuzfeld-Jacob, Scrapie, and B.S.E. ("Mad Cow Disease") died December 12, 2008. Later, he was convicted and served time in a U.S. prison after it was revealed that he had had sexual relationships with boys. He remained unapologetic for these relations and contended that the laws punishing those having such relationships were unjust. Subsequent to his release, he spent the remainder of his years in Europe where he felt attitudes were less puritanical (sadly, this seems no longer to be true).

His contribution to our understanding of neurodegenerative disorder as caused by prions was most valuable and one can only speculate as to further advances he might have achieved had he not been prosecuted and imprisoned. His brilliance will be missed.

Revisit Jessica's Law

Editorial From the Los Angeles Times

The sex-offender statute is unaffordable and doesn't improve safety. If it can't be dropped, it should be rewritten.

Of all the ill-considered ballot initiatives approved by California voters over the years, few can match Jessica's Law for sheer self-destructiveness. The measure, billed as a way to protect children from sexual predators when it appeared on the ballot in 2006 as Proposition 83, is worsening the yawning state budget gap amid zero evidence that it's protecting anyone -- in fact, according to a state panel, it may be threatening public safety.

This page warned that the initiative would be an expensive mistake, but that didn't stop 70% of voters from approving it. That may be because sexual predators are nobody's idea of a good neighbor, and voters thought that forcing sex offenders to wear GPS tracking devices for life and forbidding them to live within 2,000 feet of schools and parks would keep them at bay. What they didn't consider were cost and practicality.

Among its many failings, the measure doesn't distinguish between criminals who are at high risk of re-offending and those who aren't. That means a teenager convicted of having sex with his underage girlfriend, as just one example, is subject to GPS monitoring and residence restrictions for the rest of his life, even if he never commits another crime. It also fails to specify what agency is responsible for monitoring those thousands of former inmates, or to devote money to pay for it.

State corrections officials announced Jan. 12 that they are now monitoring all 6,622 paroled sex offenders with GPS devices, after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger set aside $106 million in last year's budget for the program. Where the state will come up with the money while facing a $42-billion shortfall over the next 18 months is an open question. What's more, the state will monitor sex offenders only for as long as they remain on parole -- after that, it's up to municipal agencies, none of which have the staff, equipment or spare funding to do the job.

The expense might be worthwhile if Jessica's Law were actually reducing sex crimes. Yet research has found no connection between where a sex offender lives and the likelihood that he'll offend again, nor is there any evidence that GPS monitoring lowers recidivism. Further, it's very hard for parolees to find homes that aren't near schools or parks, leading to a 12-fold increase in the number of homeless sex offenders since the law was passed in 2006. A lack of stable housing only increases the odds that an ex-con will return to crime -- or as the state Sex Offender Management Board put it in a report Tuesday: "Residency restrictions that preclude or eliminate appropriate offender housing can threaten public safety instead of enhancing it."

Lawmakers rarely show the courage to fix problems created by get-tough-on-crime voter initiatives, but there will never be a better time to improve Jessica's Law. The state budget and the prison system are in crisis and must be reinvented, and amending this law -- which the Legislature can do with a two-thirds vote -- would benefit them both. Ideally, the measure should be overturned, but at a minimum the Legislature should create a review process that allows low-risk offenders to escape the residency and monitoring rules. California simply can't afford to pay more to be less safe.