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Sex Offender Registry Reform On Governor's Desk

Posted by Seth Chazin | Sep 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Tier Registry

SB 384 (Sex offenders: registration: criminal offender record information systems) was approved by the California Legislature. The bill is to reform the current sex offender registry, turning it into a tiered system. The bill was authored by Senator Scott Wiener, and co-authored by Senators Joel Anderson, Holly Mitchell, and Nancy Skinner. It was sponsored by Equality California, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, the California Sex Offender Management Board, and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. It was also endorsed by the California Police Chiefs Association, and various county sheriffs.

Senator Wiener described the current registry system as ‘broken and burdensome'. He said that the California Legislature has taken a big step forward in improving public safety, and helping law enforcement agencies more effectively monitor violent sex offenders.

Under Penal Code 290, anyone convicted of any kind of sex crime is required to be on  the sex offender registry their entire lives. The California sex offender registry has more than 100,000 people listed, and the sheer size means that it's basically useless to law enforcement. Many of the offenders on it are low level offenders, who had been convicted decades ago, and present little to no risk now. This even includes LGBTQ people who were placed on the registry for same sex behavior that is no longer illegal.

California is one of only four states where all sex offenders are treated the same way, and required to be entered into the same lifetime registration. Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina also maintain a lifetime registration requirement, without differentiating at all between various registrants. This means that the state has bloated its own system, and made it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to police effectively. Estimates are that 60% of the officers time is spent on paperwork for low risk offenders..

The bill will turn the registry into a tiered system in the following ways:

Tier 1 will require registration for misdemeanors, or non-violent felonies for a period of ten years.

Tier 2 will require registration for serious or violent sex offenders for a period of twenty years.

Tier 3 will require registration for high risk offenders, including sexually violent offenders, repeat violent offenders, and any sex offenses which require a life term. These offenders will not be eligible for removal from the registry.

Tier 1 and 2 offenders are not automatically removed from the registry at the end of their designated time period. The registrant needs to petition the court to be removed, and the court can deny the request, and the District Attorney could request a hearing to oppose the petition of removal.

The bill has been passed to the Governor's desk, and Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it.

Further Reading:

LA Times: Criminal justice leaders seek to end lifetime registry for low-risk sex offenders in California

LA Times: Gov. Brown supports bill sent to him that would end lifetime listing of many sex offenders on public registry

Alliance For Constitutional Sex Offense Laws: CA ASSEMBLY PASSES TIERED REGISTRY BILL

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 30 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson