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O.C. Supes Give Early OK to Law Banning Sex Offenders in Parks

Board asks district attorney to make revisions before a final vote is taken.

A law that would ban sex offenders in Orange County parks was given tentative approval Tuesday by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The board has asked District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to make several revisions to the ordinance before a final vote is taken in April.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson proposed the ordinance after one of his
constituents complained that a registered sex offender inherited a home in
Fullerton, across from Laguna Lake Park.

"We found there were few tools to keep this person away from children in the park,'' Nelson said.

Fullerton City Council members have approved similar ordinances barring
sex offenders from parks, Nelson said.

Under the proposal, registered sex offenders caught in designated county recreational areas where children regularly gather would be subject to misdemeanor charges. Violators could be punished with up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

The ordinance would become law 30 days after if it is passed. 

“Registered sex offenders should not have the right to go into parks and places where children gather,” Rackauckas said in a statement announcing plans for the ordinance. “Parks do not belong to sexual deviants. Parks belong to children who want to play there and parents who want to enjoy nature with their children.”

Supervisor Pat Bates of the Fifth District said she had first-hand experience with a sex offender years ago when she took her children on an outing. 

“When I took my daughter and some young ladies to the O.C .Marine Institute, which is now the Ocean Institute, there was a sex offender there who exposed himself to the girls, so it does happen,” Bates said.

The question came up during the discussion about whether the Harbor, Beaches and Parks Department or the Sheriff’s Department would be responsible for signing waivers for registered sex offenders who wished to be in one of the parks for a wedding or similar event, as well as for county workers with such an offense on their records who needed to be in the parks as a condition of their employment.

It was ultimately determined  that the Sheriff's Department would be responsible for issuing the waivers. Denis Bildeau, Nelson’s chief of staff, said the Sheriff's Department would be better equipped to analyze a person’s criminal record.

The district attorney’s office said officers would not be patrolling the parks looking for sex offenders, but rather that it would be up to people visiting the parks to report any suspicious behavior to park rangers or law enforcement personnel.

Speaking on behalf of a group called Sex Offender Solutions and Education Network based in Oklahoma, Eric Knight, who represents the California region, said that while even the words sex offender “strike terror in any parent or neighborhood,” the ordinance, if passed, would “violate” a handful of amendments—1,4, 5, 8, 10, 14—of the U.S. Constitution, as well as many California laws.

“I can guarantee that this law would be overturned should it go to court,” he said. “I think a better solution would be to work alongside the schools, and work out details on how to keep kids safe and educate them better.”

In response to Knight’s remark, the district attorney’s office said the department had researched the issue and was “confident in that the issue of impinging on someone’s constitutional rights is not an issue.”

Barry Levinson, a resident of Fullerton, implored the board to pass the ordinance.

“How can we truly say we value our children if this ordinance doesn’t go into effect?” he said.

The law would apply to nearly 60,000 acres of parkland and open space, including regional and wilderness parks, nature preserves, recreational trails, historic sites, harbors, and beaches where children regularly gather. These include: Arroyo Trabuco Park, Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Clark Regional Park, Craig Regional Park, Featherly Regional Park, Irvine Regional Park, Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Mile Square Regional Park, O'Neill Regional Park, Orange County Zoo, Peters Canyon Regional Park, Santiago Regional Park, Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park, Yorba Park, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Caspers Wilderness Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park, Talbert Nature Preserve, Aliso Beach Park, Capistrano Beach Park, Newport Harbor, Salt Creek Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, Dana Point Harbor, and Sunset Harbour.

—City News Service contributed to this report.

The One March 22, 2011 at 09:47 PM
The county board is too close-minded. The California SOMB found after ten years, only 3.38% of registrants were returned to custody for a sex offense conviction . Similar studies in Ohio and the US Department of Justice found low long-term sex offender re-offense rates. This law is based on the assumption every person on the public registry is an immediate threat and the statistics do not support this assumption. A New York study found that 95.9% of rape arrests and 94.1% of child molestation arrests were of individuals NOT on the registry. It is hard to claim a park ban would be effective when there is no way to screen for those not on any public list. The courts have recognized as well laws designed to prevent criminal activity must be narrowly tailored to prevent only the activity associated with crime, and barring otherwise legal, non-criminal activities serves no legitimate purpose. Referring to a similar decision against Cincinnati’s drug exclusion law, the court stated the following:
The One March 22, 2011 at 09:47 PM
As the Akron ordinance in Rowland did, the Cincinnati ordinance encroaches upon a substantial amount of innocent conduct and is not, therefore, narrowly tailored. A person subject to exclusion is exposed to a criminal penalty by simply being in Over the Rhine. The prohibited conduct is not limited to entering a drug-exclusion zone to engage in some type of illegal activity, such as the purchase or sale of drugs or corrupting another with drugs. Instead, the ordinance also attacks conduct that is completely innocent. A person subject to the exclusion ordinance may not enter a drug exclusion zone to speak with counsel, to visit family, to attend church, to receive emergency medical care, to go to a grocery store, or just to stand on a street corner and look at a blue sky. None of these activities are performed with illegal intention, yet a criminal penalty attaches to them without any evidence of illegality, or improper purpose, or a finding that the person is likely to commit future drug offenses
KC March 22, 2011 at 09:56 PM
They already user the verbal version of an atomic bomb with "How can we truly say we value our children if this ordinance doesn’t go into effect?” Statments like that (and other fear based summations) force all logic to stop and usually ends all arguments because no one wants to go against it for fear of looking like they are against children.
homeskoolmom5 March 23, 2011 at 12:37 AM
Thank you, Jeff. It is about time someone calls it like it is. Good for you!
Tonya Fitzpatrick March 23, 2011 at 02:37 AM
This calls to mind a concern I have about the RSM Lake area - I realize that it is not a park, however, it is flanked by several elementary schools and children go through the lake area on their way to and from school. There are at least 2 registered sex offenders living within less than one mile proximity to the lake. How can this be?
jeff s March 23, 2011 at 09:00 AM
thanks, well i hava a good habit of not dancing around an issue with legalistic mumbo jumob, call it like it is. the problem is not us, the problem is them, and we need to stand up for ourselves and our families. once they commit a crime like this, they give up their civil rights and their public trust is GONE, it's jsut not debatable
jeff s March 23, 2011 at 09:17 AM
if i lived near there i would set up anti-pedo parent volunteer task force and run marches and patrols in front of the pedo houses. simply just a few moms and dads with lawn chairs and signage is all it takes. run those sick bastardsa out of your town. they DO NOT belong near children.
The One March 23, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Jeff S:" if i lived near there i would set up anti-pedo parent volunteer task force and run marches and patrols in front of the pedo houses. simply just a few moms and dads with lawn chairs and signage is all it takes. run those sick bastardsa out of your town [sic]." The usual comments here just further proves my point that the registry and other post-release laws should never have been implemented in the first place. What Jeff S is suggesting is called harassment, which is against the law in California: The California Penal Code [ Section 646.9. Stalking. 1990 (Amended 1994) ] defines the crime of stalking as follows: Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety... is guilty of the crime of stalking The California Code further defines harassment as: ...a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose. This course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the person.P<> Three years later, in 1993, the California Civil Code was updated to include civil remedies for stalking victims.
The One March 23, 2011 at 05:01 PM
From the disclaimer on the Cali registry website: Legal and Illegal Uses. The information on this web site is made available solely to protect the public. Anyone who uses this information to commit a crime or to harass an offender or his or her family is subject to criminal prosecution and civil liability. Any person who is required to register pursuant to Penal Code section 290 who enters this web site is punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both the fine and imprisonment. (Pen. Code, § 290.46, subd. (h)(2).) What Jeff S suggests is criminal harassment. Take his advice at your own risk.
Shripathi Kamath March 23, 2011 at 05:13 PM
"Argument from intimidation", "poisoning the well", ... will end up costing taxpayers money fighting what is certainly to meet constitutional challenges, and likely overturned. Ironic that Eric Knight represents a organization from Oklahoma. Legislators in that state waste a lot of taxpayer money enacting laws that are often promptly found unconstitutional. Besides, making something a crime to deter would-be actions from criminals who are supposedly not re-habitable and would commit the crime anyway, (and hence the argument for the law) is going to help, how?
Tonya Fitzpatrick March 23, 2011 at 08:24 PM
When I first saw those addresses in the registry, which happen to be within my own complex, I considered doing just that! I have two small children and would very much like to think that we live a safe place. However, when I looked into it further, I found that one of these men has a wife, children and extended family in the community. He even has grandchildren! I realized that, unfortunately, he would not be the only one affected by such actions. Regardless of the situation, I couldn't knowingly inflict distress on his family members. Which brings me back to my concern regarding the one mile proximity to schools. I thought that this was a law that was already enforced by the Sex Offender Tracking Program.
jeff s March 24, 2011 at 12:25 AM
hmmph... its either your family or his, if it were me there would be no choice in the matter...
Bruin Nation March 24, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Jeff S: The U.S. Constitution protects Every American's right to intrastate travel, freedom of assembly, due process and equal protection. Not only is this proposed ban reactionary hysteria, it is illegal. You obviously don't know ANYTHING about the vast majority of person's on the registry. It's people like YOU, Jeff, who spread fear and hatred and scare the living daylights out of American Citizens. If you picket...I picket you back. Count on it. If this bans gets approved, I will be the very first to appeal the matter in Orange County Superior Court on minute one. Not everyone on the registry did something so wrong as to write another nonsense law like banning people from parks, beaches and libraries for life. What's next? Grocery stores? Public Transportation? Do a little research, please, before you start up with your hate mongering...you look foolish.
The One March 24, 2011 at 04:03 AM
Violence only begets more violence. California does have a form of The Castle Doctrine. I can't imagine certain chest thumpers here at this site would do it in real life, As I've learned people who raise their bad grammar voices online do the opposite in real life, unless he or she has an entourage for backup. But if you do, at least choose your victim wisely. From a Seneca Falls NY story from 2009 Seneca Falls Police say the attack appeared to be retaliation for Porter trying to alert his neighbors about sex offenders who lived in their complex. "We found that Mr. Porter had downloaded the photos of sex offenders that lived in the complex, and had posted them somewhere in the vicinity of the laundromat that's in the facility." Seneca Falls Police Chief Frederick Capozzi said. After court, Porter's sister and members of the Meacham family had a heated exchange before the mother of five of the suspects came to their defense. "I'm not saying my kids done right, they done wrong," Sheryl Meachum said. "But when you're being run down with a machete, you're not going to stand there. You're going to fight back." Police and the Seneca County District Attorney couldn't comment on the use of that machete. The vigilante was beaten within an inch of his life, but that's what he gets for going after someone with a machete. Somehow I see the resident chest thumper trying a silly stunt like that.
The One March 24, 2011 at 04:04 AM
By the way, if someone came to my doorstep threatening or harassing me for any reason I'd give him the business.
The One March 24, 2011 at 04:07 AM
Residency restrictions don't work anyways. If you don't like the guy don't invite him to your house. If he's out doing wrong, report him. If he's minding his own business and trying to be a productive member of society, leave him be. Don't follow the chest thumper's bad example, he's likely to end up in San Quentin with his violent tendencies.
The One March 24, 2011 at 12:42 PM
You've made many violent statements publicly and privately, but I've had my share of dealing with people like you-- bad grammar, low IQ, people who like to act like the alpha dog on the internet. The reason I tried quitting expressing my disdain for you publicly is because I didn't want my truthful statements on the fallacy of this asinine park ban be deleted because of going back and forth with the likes of you. However, every violent and hate-filled comment you are making here simply furthers my point. However, I'm not shy about telling the fine readers here I don't like you, I think you are an online chest thumper who, in real life, is likely the kind of guy who takes crap from everyone while whimpering from his cubicle, then goes home and slaps his wife, kids, and pets around in drunken fits of rage.
The One March 24, 2011 at 07:47 PM
Jeff S, you say that but come back each time with the same insane ranting as you have from the very beginning. You remind me of this kid in my class back in elementary school who started stuff but cried to the teacher when his target knocked him on his worthless butt. You started attacking me and threatening me for expressing a different opinion than yours, now you're crying I took the fight back to you. You are the stereotypical internet troll with a serious anger issue. Your bad grammar and false accusations do not help your cause.
The One March 24, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Posting legal statute for the purpose of showing you what the law explicitly states is not the same as plagiarizing, Jeff S. Despite how you feel about registered persons, the law is very clear about harassment and abuse of the registry is a criminal offense. Plagiarism is the act of passing off copyrighted material as your own work. In addition to your atrociously bad grammar, you are also proving deficient in the meaning of words. Might I suggest you order "Hooked on Phonics?" It is still around if you Google it. Only an idiot fails to see how holding up signs and staking out on the lawns of people is wrong. You are asking for a fight for one. I'd take it as an implied threat and would defend myself with the weaponry I have at my disposal. What I find even funnier by your statement, "How does a few mons [sic] and dads in lawnchairs with signage cause fear and harassment?" Didn't you already state the intention of doing posting up at the doorstep of a registrant is for the purpose of chasing someone out of town? Sounds like fear and harassment to me. You are suffering from a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease, Jeff S.
The One March 24, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Actually, Shripathi, SOSEN is a national network; it is just the CEO of that organization happens to live in Oklahoma.
Robert Curtis March 24, 2011 at 08:44 PM
People Please calm down. I'm a registered EX-sex offender (misdemeanor not involving a child) that has a wonderful family and kids that make me proud. It's hurtful to them for this kind of ordinance to go through. It also is a slap in the face of our law enforcement community. These law enforcement professionals haven't made life a picnic for me and my family but it's their job. The controls that are in place as it is are demanding enough. To outlaw going to the beach with my family is unconscionable. This law would make Hitler proud. Remember these are not sex offenders but Ex-sex offender that have gone through mandated therapy, probation and registration.
jeff s March 24, 2011 at 09:23 PM
now we get to the point, i agree with you, i'm specifically calling for action against kiddy sex freak pedo hellbound wack-jobs - not people like you. i know that one can be a registered offender for something as stupid as whizzing on a tree or even lighter offenses done in public. i'm only stating my disdain and non-tolerance for pedo victimizers who hunt little children to get their jollies off. I also lack any patience, mercy, and have great disdain for - nor do i understand those freaks out there who would sympathize with and/or defend them.
jeff s March 24, 2011 at 09:25 PM
dude, you are so gay. grow up and get a girlfriend (above the age of 18) you freak.
louie louie March 28, 2011 at 06:20 AM
so jeffs... what's your opinion on prop8?
Shelomith Stow April 05, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Just some reasons why this is bad, bad, bad: Not all "sex offenders" are child molesters; this punishes the whole class for the actions of a few. They will not be able to take their own children to park/beach/etc. Some will have jobs requiring them to be at those places; this will result in job loss. Well over 90% of sexually molested children are not victims of registered sex offenders but of their own family members and trusted family acquaintances. Your kids are at much greater risk from Uncle Joe who took them to the park than from a registered sex offender. They have paid their debt; as a group, they have a very low recidivism rate; this is just wrong.
joe April 05, 2011 at 11:29 PM
Tonya, The law you speak of is the 2,000 foot rule. If an offender has lived in his or her house before the law (Jessica's Law) went into affect they are allowed to remain in their houses. A judge recently in Los Angeles ruled the 2000 rule is not enforceable. I appreciate your view of not picketing a man and his family. There are people like Jeff S who have no conscience.
jeff s April 05, 2011 at 11:40 PM
ahhh.. nice - another low blow from low thinking joe. i certainly do have a conscience! just no sympathy for pedophiles or empathy for those who defend their rights. kiddy freaks have no rights and should be run out of civilized areas, banished to outskits of any areas where children congregate. why are we discussing this anyhow, the law was passed, they are now banned from my parks. ...good ridance pedo meatsacks...
The One April 06, 2011 at 03:24 AM
Jeez, some people sure love to abuse their right to anonymous speech. Well the hateful comments from the resident troll was booted again, but I saw the comments in my Inbox. In regards to the Bible, stop misquoting it. Read the passage of Matthew 18 a lot more closely next time. Jesus speaks about all Believers, not just kids. He says we should approach him like a child (meaning humble), and the exhortation in Mt 18:6 refers to doing things that cause ANY Believer to sin! It is an exhortation against scandals in general. Read the entire chapter. The next paragraph is the infamous "If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out." Do you take that literally? If so, how can Jeff S still type? He'd have no fingers. Its funny he alluded to Matthew 18 since that very chapter warns us about an unforgiving heart.
The One April 06, 2011 at 03:25 AM
Feel free to look it up. By the way, this law WILL be overturned in court. They just cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. Way to go.

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