Law banning sex offenders from parks, beaches approved by O.C. supervisors
Orange County supervisors Tuesday approved a law significantly restricting the movements of registered sex offenders, banning them entering some beaches, parks and harbor areas.
The proposal marks a new frontier in a controversial series of laws across the country aimed at limiting where sex offenders can live and visit. Under the law, which was championed by Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas, sex offenders who enter designated public spaces without prior approval from county officials face six months in jail or a $500 fine.
Rackauckas and other supporters said the idea was to keep sex offenders away from children and families. "Parks do not belong to sexual deviants," Rackauckas said in a statement. "Parks belong to children who want to play there and parents who want to enjoy nature with their children."
But critics immediately expressed skepticism about the law, saying it would be difficult to enforce and appear politically motivated.
Franklin Zimring, a UC Berkeley law professor, said the law was overly broad and misdirected because more than 90% of sex crimes targeting children are committed not by strangers in a park but by family members or acquaintances.
“It’s trying to solve a problem nobody knows exists,” he said, adding that laws imposing restrictions on sex offenders were snowballing because they were politically popular.
“Who’s going to lose votes being against child molestation?” he said.
Orange County’s ordinance would be the first legal move in California imposing restrictions on where sex offenders can be. Thus far, state law only restricts where they can live.
It covers some of region’s top attractions including the Orange County Zoo, Irvine Regional Park, Newport Harbor and Dana Point Harbor.
-- Victoria Kim in Los Angeles and Sarah Peters in Santa Ana
Photo: Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas. Credit: Los Angeles Times