2017 Legislative Priorities
SB 421 – A Tiered Sex Offender Registry Would Promote Public Safety
California’s current sex offender registration system is outdated and ineffective. California is one of only four states in the U.S. with a lifetime registry. When the registry was created in 1947 to require individuals to register for life, it was intended to be used as a tool to track high-risk offenders, so law enforcement could quickly solve and prevent new crimes related to sexual violence. Now, with more than 105,000 individuals who are on the California registry, the list no longer meets its intended purpose and cannot be used as a tool to quickly locate dangerous sex offenders.
Law enforcement is using their increasingly reduced budgets to manage an ineffective registry that encompasses a vast majority of individuals who pose little risk to their communities and have never re-offended. This is diverting resources away from survivors, victim services, and proven prevention initiatives.
The requirement to register was never intended to be a tool to deter sex offenses, and we know that that the registry does not keep individuals from offending. The purpose of the registry is to know who could be a risk to society, and the registry, in its current form, does not meet that goal.
California Senator Scott Wiener (D-11) introduced SB 421, which would establish a three-tiered registry for sex offenders. Individuals will be placed in tier one, two or three based on a risk assessment that measures a person’s risk of sexual or violent re-offense. The tiered registry reforms our broken and outdated system by implementing research-based policies to make California’s sex offender registry an effective law enforcement tool to promote public safety and better serve victims and survivors.
A tiered registry will give law enforcement the time and resources to focus on monitoring high-risk offenders in our communities, and therefore, making our communities safer.
Watch this video co-produced by CALCASA and the California Sex Offender Management Board to learn more.
Get Engaged: Send a letter in support of SB 421.
If you are a survivor, victim service provider, family or community member who has been impacted by California’s broken sex offender registry, please tell us your story by participating in this survey.
Are sex offenders likely to commit a new sex crime?
No, only a small percentage of people who commit sex offenses reoffend. Research shows that 90% of people on California’s registry pose little risk to their communities. Most current registrants are first-time offenders who have been on the registry for decades without reoffending since completing their sentences.
What is the risk assessment?
The risk assessment was established in 2006 with the enactment of the Sex Offender Punishment, Control, and Containment Act. The law requires experts to develop an empirical tool to identify offenders who are high-risk. How many times has a sex offense been committed, how many violent offenses have been committed, and does the offender know the victim, are some of the questions asked when measuring an offenders risk to society.
Visit California’s Megan’s Law website to learn more: https://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/SexOffenders_RiskAssessment.aspx
What does each tier require of the registrant?
SB 421 would establish a tiered registry. If the legislation is enacted into law, then registrants would begin their time on the registry upon release from custody.
Tier One: This is the lowest tier and it would require the offender to register for a minimum of 10 years. The individuals convicted of Tier One offenses would not be posted on the Department of Justice’s Megan’s Law website. This tier is for misdemeanors and low-level felonies.
Tier Two: This would require registration for a minimum of 20 years. The individuals convicted of Tier Two offenses would be posted with their zip code on the Department of Justice’s Megan’s Law website. This tier is for serious and violent offenses.
Tier Three: This would require lifetime registrations. The individuals convicted of Tier Three offenses would be posted with their full address on the Department of Justice’s Megan’s Law website. This tier is for sexually violent predators, repeat offenders, and anyone who poses a high risk for reoffending, even if convicted of a less serious crime.