Archive for December, 2008

California’s homeless sex offenders on parole up 800%

Posted on December 20, 2008. Filed under: Crime |

From the Los Angeles Times

California Briefing

December 19, 2008

SACRAMENTO

Homeless sex offenders on parole jumps sharply

The number of homeless sex offenders on parole in California has increased dramatically since the approval two years ago of Proposition 83, an initiative that imposed harsh restrictions on where they can live, a state panel reported Thursday.

The Sex Offender Management Board said the number of parolees monitored by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation — one of the only government agencies to enforce what is known as Jessica’s Law — increased from 88 in November 2006 to 1,056 at the end of June 2008.

“Common sense leads to the conclusion that a community cannot be safer when sex offenders are homeless,” the report states, citing research concluding that unstable housing can lead to recidivism.

Jessica’s Law, which prohibits sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of schools and parks where children play, was proposed by state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) and his wife, Sharon, a former assemblywoman, and strongly backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

When the state board looked at its effect on housing for all sex offenders, including those not on parole against whom the law has not generally been enforced, it found homelessness had increased 60%. Potential solutions mentioned included housing multiple sex offenders in the same place and putting them in mobile trailers until they can find a permanent home.

The governor’s office said Thursday that Schwarzenegger still “strongly supports Jessica’s Law, which all involved concede needs fine-tuning.” Neither the governor nor the law’s other sponsors have offered proposals to amend it.  To view full report click here.

— Michael Rothfeld LOS ANGELES

 

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California Victim Compensation Board Spending More But Helping Less

Posted on December 11, 2008. Filed under: Crime Victim Services |

Payments fall from $123.9 million in fiscal 2001-02 to $81.2 million last year, a state audit shows. But the costs to run the board have risen substantially.
By Patrick McGreevy
December 10, 2008
Crime victims in California are getting less financial help from a state victim compensation fund, and too much is spent on administering the program, according to a state audit released Tuesday. 

The amount of victim compensation payments fell from $123.9 million in the 2001-02 fiscal year to $61.6 million four years later — a 50% decline.

The payments last year were $81.2 million, still below the amount paid seven years ago, according to California Auditor Elaine Howle’s report. 

“Despite the significant decline in payments, the costs the board incurs to support the program have increased,” Howle wrote in a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “These costs — ranging from 26 percent to 42 percent annually — account for a significant portion of Restitution Fund disbursements.”

The cut in payments was the result of action by the state Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board to avoid the fund running out of money before all claims were handled, said Miles Bristow, a board spokesman. He said payments have gone up and administrative costs have gone down in the last few years as the board has increased the amount allowed for claims for mental health services, burial and other needs. Julie Nauman, the board’s executive director, agreed with the audit’s recommendations, which included refining goals to maximize help to victims.

The fund is financed with restitution fines levied against convicted criminals, as well as federal grants. Last year, 50,895 claims from crime victims were filed, a 4% increase from the year before.

McGreevy is a Times staff writer.

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