Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1199 into law Monday evening, an attempt to correct the way Jessica’s Law led to a disproportionate number of sexual offenders being released to rural areas.
The bill’s author, Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said the bill addresses an unintended consequence, which created a burdensome and unfair situation in several parts of the 21st Senate District, which he represents, as well as rural communities throughout the state.
The problem for these smaller communities is that most of them, due to their lack of population density, meet the requirements for where a convicted sex offender can be released, Wilk said.
Jessica’s Law was initially passed in Florida in 2005, in response to the murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford at the hands of a convicted sex offender, according to national reports at the time. A version of the law that stated convicted sex offenders must live 2,000 feet from churches and schools was later made law in California through a ballot initiative in 2006.
However, in most urban and even suburban areas, building density makes it impossible to place a sex offender in these areas, Wilk said. And these areas also tend to have more of the resources a sex offender would need in order to rehabilitate.
“I think this is going to release the unfair burden on my constituents,” Wilk said, adding that it’s also a win for those who need help to rehabilitate.
Wilk said he had two more legislative efforts that he was hopeful would garner the governor’s signature:
SB 1409 creates a framework for the growth of industrial hemp in California, and the bill is expected to be heard on the Assembly floor this week, he said.
SB 1036 addresses a privacy issue that was brought to a constituent during a Saugus Union School District board meeting, he said.
SB 1036 would “prohibit the … personal information, as defined, of a pupil or of the parent or guardian of a pupil in the minutes of a meeting of the governing body … if a pupil who is 18 years of age or older or a parent or guardian of a pupil has provided a written request to the secretary or clerk of the governing body to exclude his or her personal information or the name of his or her minor child, as specified.”
Wilk said a grandmother who spoke during the public comment portion of an SUSD meeting — expressing her opinion regarding a book that had offended her — later learned that her residential address had been published as part of the official record of the meeting’s minutes.
The woman felt that in “today’s political climate” it was not a good idea to have her personal information published without her expressed consent.
“Personal information,” according to SB 1036, “includes a person’s address, telephone number, date of birth and email address.”