Crack Down on Sex Offenders

Longer jail sentences, increased parole time and mandatory risk
assessment for sex offenders are just some of the ways one local
senator is hoping to crack down on sexual predators.
San Jose – Longer jail sentences, increased parole time and mandatory risk assessment for sex offenders are just some of the ways one local senator is hoping to crack down on sexual predators.

Senator Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) proposed the Sex Offender Punishment, Control and Containment Act earlier this month in an effort to encourage tougher prosecution and reforming of convicted sex offenders.

“If we want to seriously address the problem of sexual predators, we need to take a comprehensive approach based on what we know works, not just what sounds good,” she said while unveiling the new legislation.

The bill includes proposals to expand the Megan’s Law database to provide more information such as the risk level of registered sex offenders. Under the bill, the penalty for the rape or sodomy of a prepubescent child by an adult would be increased to 25 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors would also be discouraged from plea bargaining with defense attorneys to lesser sentences, and risk assessments for all convicted sex offenders would be mandatory.

Backers of Alquist’s bill oppose a second piece of legislation that would increase the distance a paroled sex offender can live from a school from 1,300 to 2,000 feet.

The Sex Offender Punishment, Control and Containment Act does not extend the boundary around schools, but prohibits offenders from loitering in these areas.

Some argue that increasing the boundary would push sex offenders out of urban areas and into rural regions. Others believe the distance is arbitrary and doesn’t serve to protect those vulnerable one way or another.

“If you use the logic of, if a kid’s going to go close to a candy jar then the kid’s going to get in to the candy jar, then increasing the buffer zone around a school is going to be effective,” reasoned Sgt. Kurt Svardal of the Gilroy Police Department. “It makes the public feel safer, because a school is supposed to be safe. Limiting the contact can be a very positive thing.”

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