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KCLU special report explores effects of “Jessica’s Law”

They sleep under bushes and bridges and in trash dumpsters in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. They are homeless sex offenders on parole and there’s a growing army of them throughout California.

Produced and reported by KCLU Special Projects Reporter John North, the program will explore two provisions of “Jessica’s Law” --- residency restrictions and GPS tracking of sex offender parolees.

The documentary also looks at GPS monitoring of sex offender probationers by the Ventura County Probation Department. It features interviews with parole agents, probation officers, a California Department of Corrections official, the California Sex Offender Management Board chairperson and several homeless high-risk sex offender parolees.

According to the professionals who supervise and oversee the management of sex offenders, the stress caused by being homeless increases the risk that they’ll commit another crime.

The statewide public safety issue is the result of “Jessica’s Law.” Approved by 70 percent of California voters in November 2006 as Proposition 83, a get-tough-on-sex-offenders initiative, “Jessica’s Law” has residency restrictions that have created a 2,000-percent increase in homeless sex offender parolees.

The restrictions mandate that convicted child molesters cannot live within a half-mile of a school or park where children gather and all other convicted sex offenders can’t live within a lesser distance of 2,000 feet. In many urban areas of the state, these “predator-free zones” preclude most compliant housing and, consequently, the sex offender parolees become homeless.

KCLU is the National Public Radio station serving Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. KCLU broadcasts at 88.3 FM in Ventura County and at 102.3 FM and 1340 AM in Santa Barbara County . KCLU is a public service of California Lutheran University.