| Despite any sex offenders loss of residence, probation officers still need them to check-in. |
| One problem that's brought up with a sex offender going homeless is the constant movement that offender has, which makes it difficult for officers to keep track. |
| In San Bernardino, two known sex offenders were said to be living in a public park. But officers say they are powerless to stipulate where they should live. |
By Sheryl Kahn and Matt Guillermo
News Channel 3
As many as 42 states have adopted a form of Jessica's Law -- the piece of legislation that restricts and cracks down on where and how a sex offender must live.
The intention is a stricter recourse in keeping convicted offenders from committing sex acts again.
And the punishments according to the law are supposed to keep repeat offenders in prison for a long time.
But with all the stipulations, including a requirement for offenders to live at least 2,000 feet from a school or park, it has reportedly made it difficult for offenders to live anywhere.
And that, according to California's Sex Offender Management Board, has forced hundreds into homelessness.
That, in turn, has made it difficult to track down where those sex offenders are located during the day.
With that, San Bernardino County probation officers are keeping close tabs on registered offenders in the county.
Many of the convicted offenders in San Bernardino County are already registered on the Megan's Law website. Many of them already are subjected to the strict Jessica's Law regulations.
Officers spend hours and hours making sure the offenders are not living someplace that violates their probation, even if their residence is a car or a box.
But if an offender says he's homeless, it won't be always easy to account for him.
One probation officer says they still need to know where the convict is at all times.
"We ask them ‘where do you park your car?' or ‘where do you sleep at night?'" says probation officer Michael Aguilar. "If they live at a park, we ask them ‘which park bench do you sleep on?' ‘Can you be there at 10 o'clock?'
"They may evade that. They may say ‘I'm at a different park all the time.'"
State officials say Jessica's Law has in fact made it much harder for sex offenders to find someplace to live.
And because of that, the number of transient offenders has gone up considerably.
Some probation officers say that's not necessarily true. They say many offenders claim to be homeless so they won't have to move.
"If they're living in a cardboard box, that's fine," says probation officer Greg Levers. "But we need to know the location of the cardboard box.
"We need to know where they are every night...where they lay their head down. If they don't adhere to that, they are going to go into custody."
But there are some disturbing loopholes.
One sex offender officers keep tabs on was convicted of molesting his step-granddaughter.
He now lives in an R.V. usually park inside a San Bernardino park where families often picnic. And at least one other known sex offender also lives in the park.
But probation officers say the two men may not have to move.
Officers say there's not much that can be done to restrict the sex offenders from the park.
"Everywhere, there's going to be kids," says one officer. "We'll do the best we can to control any situation. We'll have them leave if it is a huge concern."
Another offender lives in a car parked on a busy street in a neighborhood in which an ice cream truck drives through often.
Children often walk-by the neighborhood in what officers refer as an "ant trail" -- basically, walking, talking temptation for a child molester. Officers say those kids could wander off close to sex offenders' homes going or leaving school.
Despite the heightened patrols, some people believe there are too many ways to bypass Jessica's Law, especially if an offender reports he is homeless.
Many people say they are even more concerned about what sex offenders may wind up doing once they are off probation or parole, and no one is checking up on them.