Changing How Sex Offenders are Registered

Changing How Sex Offenders are Registered

Sacramento, CA

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB421

Newly proposed legislation, SB421, could change the way sex offenders are registered in the state of California. 

Under current law, all sex offenders are registered for life, regardless of severity of the crime. SB421 seeks to change that and establish a three-tiered registration system based on the type of offense a sex offender has committed. 

Each tier has a different requirement for the number of years an individual would be required to remain registered. Offenders placed on Tier 1 or 2 would remain on the registry for ten to twenty years, while Tier 3 registrants would be required to remain on the registry for life. 

The bill would also provide an opportunity for offenders to petition to be taken off the registry. To do so, however, an offender must be on the registry for at least one year before petitioning local law enforcement to be removed, before forwarding the petition to the district attorney’s office for removal. 

Many inaccurately believe the sex registry is a recent phenomenon. Although it has evolved over the years, it had its beginnings in the late 1930s. In 1938, the Los Angeles Police Department opened its Bureau of Sex Offenses. The agency kept records, fingerprints, and photographs of people convicted of sex crimes, and operated a clinic to conduct psychiatric evaluations of those arrested on sex crime charges. 

Two years later, the City of Los Angeles implemented a sex crime division. It was followed several years later by the County of Los Angeles. Then in July 1947, the California legislature added Section 290 to the state Penal Code, which required anyone convicted of any of a list of sex crimes to register with local police.

SB421 is still in the very early stages of the legislative process. Last week it had a hearing before the Senate’s Public Safety Committee.

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