Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Senator Cuts a Special Deal to Keep Parolees Out of His County

One of the sex-offender related legislative innovations of the last decade was the introduction of residence restrictions. As we explained elsewhere, residence restrictions, which prohibit registered sex offenders from living near schools or parks, have made many parts of California inhabitable for those formerly for sex offenses, many of whom have become homeless.

As to others, well, it turns out that at least one CA lawmaker thought they should stay out of his county, even before Jessica's Law was enacted. . The Sac Bee reports:

In what state Sen. George Runner characterized as a "side agreement" with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the prison and parole agency said it would limit assignments of released offenders into the Antelope Valley to those who had "historical ties" to the area....

CDCR officials, saying that the deal violated the law, terminated the agreement this spring.

"When we took a look at it, we said we can't treat offenders in this county any different than offenders in any other county," said Terri McDonald, the CDCR's chief deputy secretary for adult operations.

Runner sees the agreement as a proper way to correct the imbalance generated by the habit of "dumping" parolees in Lancaster Valley.

"From the very beginning, there was not a connection between the issue of 'Jessica's Law' and this particular issue of parolees in the Antelope Valley," Runner said in an interview.

He said that the location of a major, maximum-security prison in the Antelope Valley combined with the area's relatively cheap housing made it "easier to dump (parolees) in Lancaster."

I think this story is an interesting lesson in the side effects of sweeping punitive legislation, and it is a good reminder of the inequality between different counties. Can we imagine how the segregation of parolees into specific counties might contribute to the big differences in how they are treated and perceived?

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