SACRAMENTO, Calif. – More than 2,700 recently paroled sex offenders in California have been told they have to move because they are violating a new law that bars them from living near schools and parks.
On Friday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation finished notifying 2,741 sex offenders that they have 45 days to find legal housing, or they will be sent back to prison for violating their parole, said spokesman Bill Sessa.
The department previously estimated no more than 2,100 parolees were violating the law approved by California voters in November. Jessica's Law, named after a 9-year-old child kidnapped and killed by a molester in Florida, prohibits offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park.
Inmate advocates, some lawmakers and the corrections department itself warn that requiring offenders to move could force some to go underground, move to rural areas, become homeless, or ignore warnings and return to overcrowded state prisons.
Parole officers beat by four days a department-imposed deadline to complete their official notifications of each sex offender before Sept. 11, Sessa said.
Parole officers and state lawmakers had criticized the department for waiting nearly 10 months to notify offenders they were violating the law. With 45 days to move, some offenders won't have to comply until mid-October, nearly a year after the law was enacted.
Department officials said they had to wait to sort out court challenges, a union agreement and a new state regulation. Notifications began Aug. 17.
The department has adopted new policies to deal with sex offenders that wind up on the street, Sessa said. Homeless offenders will be required to visit their parole officer each day to report where they spent the previous night.