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Laws Restricting Lives of Sex Offenders Raise Constitutional Questions

Twenty-two states have laws that restrict where convicted sex offenders may live and, in some cases, how they interact with the community after they are released from prison. Jeffrey Kaye reports on the laws and the constitutional questions they've raised.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next, restricting where sex offenders can live. NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Kaye of KCET-Los Angeles reports on California's laws.

  • JEFFREY KAYE, NewsHour Correspondent:

    On a recent Friday afternoon, California parole agents arrived at the Long Beach apartment of a former prison inmate who had done time for attempting to molest children.

  • POLICE OFFICER:

    Your stuff is over here?

  • SEX OFFENDER PAROLEE:

    Yes.

  • JEFFREY KAYE:

    The agents came to make sure the parolee, who asked not to be identified, was moving out of his apartment. If he didn't, he'd be arrested.

  • POLICE OFFICER:

    You know Monday's our deadline. I mean, you have to move by Monday.

  • JEFFREY KAYE:

    The agents were enforcing a new California law that restricts where paroled sex offenders may live.

    Approved as a 2006 ballot proposition by 70 percent of voters, the statute also requires released sex offenders to wear tracking devices for life.

    And it allows prosecutors, such as San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, to obtain tougher penalties and much longer prison sentences for sex offenders.

  • BONNIE DUMANIS, San Diego County District Attorney:

    I've seen the devastation that happens with children who are the victims of molest.

  • JEFFREY KAYE:

    Dumanis campaigned for the California law, arguing it was needed to protect the state's children.

  • BONNIE DUMANIS:

    There were loopholes in the law. California was one of the weakest in terms of the law. There were many other states that were ahead of us. And we felt it was important to protect the kids in our community from being victimized over and over again.

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