Governor orders sex offenders to be evaluated

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2The placements violated no laws, but officials moved four parolees who lived in motels within a half-mile of the amusement park. High-risk sex offenders also became an issue in the Antelope Valley, where their proportion of the population is more than twice the Los Angeles County average. Of Los Angeles County’s 391 high-risk sex offender parolees, 43 live in the Antelope Valley. That means the Antelope Valley has 11 percent of Los Angeles County’s high-risk sex offenders on parole, but less than 4 percent of the county’s population. The issue figured in the Republican primary election campaign between Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, and Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford, who said Runner and her husband, state Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, had allowed Antelope Valley to become a dumping ground for parolees. Sharon Runner won the June 6 primary. State officials announced last month that high-risk sex offenders in the Antelope Valley had been fitted with satellite-tracking devices in a pilot program for Los Angeles County. PALMDALE – Answering criticism about paroling high-risk sex offenders into California communities, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered state prison officials to evaluate sex offenders for the risk they pose to the public before they are released on parole. At present, sex offenders who have served their prison time are released to parole officers, who then determine whether they should be classified as a high risk of committing new violent sexual assaults. “Protecting the people of California is the single greatest priority of Governor Schwarzenegger,” spokesman Bill Maile said. “Today’s executive order is another step in the enforcement of his zero-tolerance policy.” Schwarzenegger signed the executive order Friday to implement recommendations of the High Risk Sex Offender Task Force he appointed last month, after the ouster of the state parole chief following revelations that paroled sex offenders were placed in motels and hotels near Disneyland. Strapped to a parolee’s ankle, the Global Positioning System device beams signals to an orbiting network of satellites that give state parole agents a computerized record of a parolee’s movements and, if he or she ventures to a school or playground or leaves the area within which he must stay, will transmit a text message alerting his parole agent. California began using the GPS devices in a pilot program tracking high-risk sex offenders in San Diego County last July, and in October in Orange County. More than 400 are now in use in parts of California, with a state law approved last year boosting that to 2,500 over the next four years. The parolees moved from near Disneyland all wore GPS devices. The prerelease assessment is intended to ensure that paroled sex offenders will be under the highest level of scrutiny, Schwarzenegger said in his announcement of the executive order. The governor’s order also told prison officials to verify that high-risk sex offenders’ intended residences comply with a new state law barring them from living within a half-mile of schools. He also told prison officials to notify local police or sheriff’s departments at least 45 days before high-risk sex offenders are released into the communities they patrol. George Runner said most of the executive order’s points were already covered in the Antelope Valley by an agreement approved by state parole officials in January and by the initiation of the GPS program. “We already set a lot of these things in motion,” Runner said. Under that agreement, state officials promised to stop sending parolees to the Antelope Valley unless they had valley connections predating their imprisonments. The agreement also required monthly meetings between parole officials and local sheriff’s and city officials, and required parole officers to work with sheriff’s officials in keeping an eye on parolees. Runner said he had heard no complaints from sheriff’s officials that parole officers are not living up to their promises. The extent of the issue shows in a statistic contained in the governor’s executive order: In the next 90 days, more than 1,400 sex offenders are scheduled to get out of state prisons. The assessment of how many of those are at high risk of committing new violent offenses is expected to be done with 30 days, the governor’s order said. Ledford said the governor’s orders contains policies that “should be the norm,” but he also said the law keeping high-risk sex offenders a half-mile from schools will unfairly concentrate them in those neighborhoods that are farther away. Ledford added: “I think you simply have too many of these people. I don’t believe they are rehabilitated when they are released. … I think the public loses in this game. I don’t think the legislators have many of these people living next to them. They just don’t get it.” [email protected] (661) 267-5742160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more