California to end Lifetime Registration of some Sex Offenders
Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that will end lifetime listings for lower-level offenders judged to be at little risk of committing new crimes. Offenders can file petitions to be removed from the registry beginning in 2021. This means that thousands of Californians will be allowed to take their names off the state’s registry of sex offenders. The measure was introduced at the request of Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey and other law enforcement officials who said the registry, which has over 105,000 names, is less useful to detectives investigating new sex crimes because the registry is too immense. Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who introduced the bill, stated:
California’s sex offender registry is broken, which undermines public safety. SB 384 refocuses the sex offender registry on high-risk offenders and treats low-level offenders more fairly.
According to Weiner, the registry currently requires law enforcement officials to spend hours on paperwork for annual evaluations of every offender, including those who are low risk and have not committed a crime for decades. The measure was opposed by several Republican lawmakers and Erin Runnion, who founded the Joyful Child Foundation in 2002, an Orange County advocacy group for victims, after the abduction, molestation and murder of her 5-year-old daughter. California is one of only four states that require lifetime registration of sex offenders, the other states being Alabama, South Carolina and Florida. Offenses for which registrants can be removed from the list after 20 years include rape by deception and lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under 14. We will have to wait and see how many people are actually able to get off the registry when the law goes into effect in 2021 and if it will create any sort of public safety risks.