Golden Gate University Law Review


Sex offender residency restrictions in the United States became ubiquitous throughout state and county jurisdictions in 2006 following the passage of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act (“SORA”). Following passage of SORA, over 30 states and hundreds of local counties and municipalities adopted some form of restriction on where registered sex offenders could live. Although California had already placed some such limits, California voters passed Proposition 83 in November 2006, known as the Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act: Jessica’s Law (SPPCA). Among other provisions, Jessica’s Law for the first time prohibited certain registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of “schools and parks where children regularly gather,” divesting parole authorities from making any exceptions or independent determinations on case-by case bases.

This article explores the state of the law and current litigation involving sex offender residency restrictions in California. It discusses California’s Jessica’s Law, the enactment of Proposition 83, and the Supreme Court’s ruling in In re E.J., which gave some initial guidance as to the validity and application of Jessica’s Law residency restrictions. This article tracks litigation resulting from E.J. now pending in various California courts. Finally, this article discusses the effectiveness of the law on its intended purpose: whether children and communities are safer.

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