Paroled sex offenders in Orange County are strictly supervised and must comply with numerous conditions if they want to avoid being returned to custody.
What the public doesn’t realize is the fact that the re-offense rate for committing a new sex crime among paroled sex offenders is 1.9%, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).1
So why the need for all the restrictions? Quite simply, the answer may be job security. California law authorizes the CDCR to impose any “reasonable” condition of parole.2 In all likelihood, the stacking of restrictions on paroled sex offenders may have more to do with protecting law enforcement jobs than they do with public safety.
As a result, the recommitment rate for sex offenders on parole for non-criminal violations is staggeringly high at over 86%.3 Lawmakers point to this high rate of “recidivism” as justification for the need for further restrictions.
So the question that has to be asked is whether the low rate of sex offenders re-offending is due to the many restrictions placed upon convicted sex offenders or because the sex offenders are not inclined to re-offend after having gone through the traumatic criminal process.
Why Advocate Relaxing Restrictions on Paroled Sex Offenders?
Because of the revolving door effect of over-incarceration for minor, technical parole violations, over-restriction undermines stabilizing factors such as residency, employment and access to effective treatment among the sex offender parolee population. Over-restriction causes registrant parolees to become more frequently homeless, unemployable, destitute and isolated, leaving them at greater risk to re-offend.
This self-perpetuating cycle of release and return is reinforced by a public seeking retribution against a feared, but often misunderstood segment of society.
The following is a list of changes to CDCR practices regarding sex offender supervision that would assist paroled sex offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens, deflect some of the hysteria about reintegrating sex offenders back into society and contribute to overall public safety.
How to Change Sex Offender Parole in Orange County
1. Relax the rules for transient parolees
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), transient (homeless) sex offender parolees are prohibited from entering any residence including a house, apartment, hotel/motel room, shelter or other structure designed to be a residence for more than two hours. Denying a person shelter from the elements is inhumane. Forcing an unpopular segment of society to remain on the streets is draconian. The CDCR should relax this restriction to the extent possible under existing state law.
The California legislature also needs to repeal residency restriction laws, proven to be counterproductive to public safety because they have produced an alarming increase in homelessness among sex offenders.4
2. Relax restrictions on dating
Sex offender parolees in Orange County must have prior approval from their agent before beginning a “significant relationship.” There is no reasonable justification for this restriction. Rather, the condition inhibits the parolee from establishing nurturing friendships and healthy sexual partnerships. As a result, paroled sex offenders often isolate increasing the emotional stressors likely to cause recidivism.
3. Do away with curfew conditions
Nearly every sex offender parolee in Orange County has a curfew restricting his or her overnight travel. Yet they all wear GPS tracking devices permitting parole agents to monitor their movement. If a parolee goes somewhere he or she isn’t supposed to be, the agent will find out instantly. Additionally, restricting the parolee from traveling during hours when children are unlikely to be roaming about has little effect on public safety. Furthermore, agents often refuse approval of employment during curfew hours. This makes little sense.
4. Do away with restrictions on attending church
Typically, parole agents will prohibit a paroled sex offender from attending worship services if children are going to be present. Yet the parolee is free to shop at Walmart and go to other commercial businesses where children frequent. This infringement on the parolees’ 1st Amendment right to freedom of religion must end.
5. Modify conditions restricting contact with minor family members
CDCR Office of Legal Affairs directs parole agents to prohibit sex offender parolee’s contact with all minors, with the exception of their own children or those of their spouse (See U.S. v. Wolf Child, 699 F.3d 1082 (9th Cir. 2012)). The exception should be extended to include any children related to the parolee provided that the parolee has not victimized any of his or her own minor family members.
Existing policy prevents a sex offender parolee from living in an otherwise suitable home with his or her own minor brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. Family support should be encouraged. Denying a sex offender parolee family integrity when no evidence exists to support the restriction is contrary to the fundamental goal of parole.
6. Standardize the rules to apply equally
Parole agents are given broad discretion to manage their caseloads as they see fit. For example, one Orange County agent may permit his or her sex offender parolees to go to the beach while another may not. Some permit their parolees to go to college where there is a child daycare center on the grounds. Some don’t. It is completely up to the officer’s discretion and often a verbal instruction not confirmed in writing.
Parole agents should be required to enforce the rules objectively according to standards set by administrative policy and subject to a non-custodial oversight committee. Arbitrary enforcement violates these parolees’ constitutional rights of due process and equal protection.
7. Provide rehabilitative services that matter
It costs California tax payers over $47,000 per year on average to incarcerate a prisoner.5 If a fraction of all that money was directed towards comprehensive rehabilitative services, such as affordable housing, job placement, vocational retraining, medical and mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment, and mentoring within the community, recidivism in California would decrease.6
The public would be better served if efforts were made to help integrate sex offenders back into society, offering hope and opportunity and thus strong incentives not to reoffend. Public safety has been proven to increase from providing post-release rehabilitation to the criminal offender.
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you love are a paroled sex offender, you should speak to an experienced sex crimes attorney at Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible. Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending thousands of clients charged in sexual assault cases.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you in this difficult and stressful period in your life. We will help you to get the best result possible in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [CDCR 2012 Outcome Evaluation Report, p. 30; http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/ARB_FY_0708_Recidivism_Report_10.23.12.pdf]↩
2. [Cal. Pen. Code § 3053]↩
3. [CDCR 2012 Outcome Evaluation Report, p. 30.]↩
4. [California Sex offender Management Board: “Homelessness Among California’s Registered Sex Offenders”; http://www.casomb.org/docs/Residence_Paper_Final.pdf]↩
5. [VERA Institute of Justice: “The Price of Prisons Fact Sheet: California, January 2012”; http://www.vera.org/sites/default/files/resources/downloads/the-price-of-prisons-40-fact-sheets-updated-072012.pdf]↩
6. [Pew Center On The States: “The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons”, Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/corrections/Pew_Report_State_of_Recidivism_350337_7.pdf]↩