Recently, State Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) proposed the “Keep Kids Safe at School Act.” It’s hard to oppose a bill with that says it will keep children safe, but the proposed law actually does not do this. Instead, it perpetuates stereotypes that are commonly associated with sex offenders.
What is the Keep Kids Safe at School Act?
Currently, registered sex offenders are barred from being present on school grounds unless they have the written permission of school officials. In order to get permission to enter school grounds, a registered sex offender must request it ahead of time, and two weeks notice must be given to both the staff and the parents of the students at the school.
Furthermore, offenders whose crimes involved victims age 16 and under are not allowed to attend unsupervised volunteer activities where minors are present. Violating this law could lead to misdemeanor charges.
So, what does the proposed law change? If the bill is passed into law, it would eliminate any exceptions to the current law, meaning all registered sex offenders would be banned from entering a school campus. This includes parents of students at the school.
The Keep Kids Safe at School Act Ignores Problems with the Registry
The proposed elimination of the exception highlights a huge problem with the sex offender registry, and that is that the registry makes no distinction between severe crimes and minor offenses. This means that a person who is on the registry for urinating in public is treated the same as a person who was convicted of rape. The draconian measure of eliminating the ability of school officials to exercise discretion sweeps away potential volunteers whose criminal histories are non-violent and not dangerous, some of who could use their past as a way to teach children about the consequences of breaking the law, which could make a real difference in the course of a child’s life.
Moreover, the registry can only account for those who have already been convicted. The registry cannot account for predators who have never been caught, or those who have committed no crime before but might in the future.
The proposed bill capitalizes on a specific emotion of the public: fear. Fear, in this case, comes from the failure of those in power to educate the public about how the registry works, what its positives and negatives are, and how those who we entrust with the safety of our children already have a mechanism in place to prevent registered sex offenders from having unauthorized access to children.
We do not question Sen. Leyva’s sincerity in wanting to protect children, and by no means do we believe that children should not be afforded the safest environment possible in which to learn and grow. However, the responsible course for those in power is not to simply give the voters what they think they want. It is to ensure that voters have all the factual information they need to decide what it is that our elected representatives should do to improve public safety. Hastily implementing this kind of legislation based on the emotional response of the community may do more harm than good.
Want to Be Removed from the Sex Offender Registry?
If you are a registered sex offender, you face harsh restrictions that will hinder you for the rest of your life. However, you may be eligible to end your requirement to register as a sex offender. You should contact an attorney immediately to find out if you could apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation or Governor’s Pardon.
At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled sex crimes attorneys have been helping people with post-conviction matters for more than 35 years. Let us help you now. With offices located in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, our criminal defense lawyers are available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our offices at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for more information. We will be there when you call.