Ban uplifted from Jessica’s Law: Why should it be dangerous to go to school?

Rachel Chistyakov

Voices Editor

I’m scared to go to school.

Jessica’s Law is the name given to a law that punishes sex offenders and restricts them in several ways. One way the law used to restrict them is by forbidding registered sex offenders to live within 2,000 feet of a park or a school. Recently, a judge in Los Angeles ruled this portion of Jessica’s Law as unconstitutional, claiming that this made sex offenders homeless. This would heighten the risk of them attacking a child.

For a moment, I didn’t believe that this was true. I don’t see how preventing registered sex offenders from living near a school would make them homeless. In all honesty, 2,000 feet is not that big of a distance: as an example, the Mirman school is about 2,640 feet away from Milken. Why would anyone want to live so close to a school where there are noisy teenagers, loud bells, and constant traffic? To me, this seems like a lame excuse for withdrawing this ban. It simply makes it easier for a sex offender to be near children.

What about my Second Amendment right to protection? What about the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? How can I live a happy and healthy life if there are sex offenders living next door to my school? How can I live a normal life if I’m afraid of going to school?

There are 92 teachers and approximately 576 students at Milken. This means that there are 6 students per teacher on campus. This does not count many other faculty and admissions members at Milken, but that would only lower the ratio by a few students. How can I feel safe with this small ratio? There are simply not enough adults on campus to protect every single student. Although our security is very efficient, and no one would be able to get onto our campus, what happens when I’m leaving the school? What about the days that I have volleyball practice and have to leave by myself at 6 PM? I’m alone, walking through the Skirball parking lot and driving onto Sepulveda with barely anyone around. Anything can happen now that this ban has been abolished, and it terrifies me. I’d like to state that I am not judging the security at Milken at all; my point is that there is not enough protection in the world to keep every child safe from sex offenders.

Yes, extra security could be suggested. There could be certain measures taken to help protect the students even more. But nothing will help stop a sex offender from getting what he or she wants. People who commit sexual crimes against children are mentally impaired, and no amount of security can contain them if they are allowed to live so close to a school.

Jessica Lunsford
Jessica Lunsford, a girl from Florida for which Jessica's Law was named, was kidnapped, assaulted, and murdered in February of 2005.

Some say that it is actually safer to allow sex offenders to live by schools because they wouldn’t be homeless. I tried to see the validity in this argument, but I couldn’t agree with it. In Los Angeles, parents don’t normally allow their children to walk around the streets by themselves. Anyone younger than 18 has a strict curfew and has to be off the streets by 11 PM. This significantly lowers the risk of a child being attacked on the streets. Plus, if someone was being attacked on a public street, they would receive plenty of attention and the police would be notified. By allowing sex offenders to live close to schools and parks, the risk of children being attacked is heightened because children go to school five or more days a week, and the park is where many children go for recreational purposes. And, now that sex offenders are allowed to own homes nearby, they have a private place into which to bring children so the attack is no longer public.

I wish the world were a peaceful place. I wish some people weren’t evil and that sex offenders weren’t dangerous people, but this isn’t the truth. It’s a shame that restrictions must be set regarding where certain people can live, but it’s for safety purposes. This case comes down to a matter of prioritizing the people who deserve more security and freedom: children or sex offenders. To me, the answer is obvious, but apparently, not everyone in Los Angeles sees this case the same way I do.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Rachel,
    While I support the right of people to feel secure, I take issue with many of your points. You talk of your Second Amendment rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. There is no such text in the Second Amendment (in fact, the Second Amendment deals with firearms), it’s in the Declaration of Independence, a document that carries no legal authority within the US. While we’re on the topic, at what point are you constricting the First Amendment (expression) rights of sex offenders? Courts have ruled time and time again that choice of housing is expressly protected by the First Amendment. It’s for good reason. Where is the boundary between prohibiting certain housing for convicted criminals and prohibiting those same people from visiting public places because there may be children there? It’s a slippery slope, and I don’t think that it’s in our best interest to start the slide. That portion of Jessica’s law was clearly unconstitutional, and there need be no argument on that. Also, you assume that everyone convicted of sex crime want to repeat there action. Is there no room for teshuvah? I mean, not every criminal returns to a life of crime. In addition, you claim that “now that sex offenders are allowed to own homes nearby, they have a private place into which to bring children so the attack is no longer public”. In the city of Los Angeles, there are an enormous amount of private places. In no way does the lack of a home within half a mile prevent a rapist from conducting an attack in private. There is no good reason to bar convicted criminals from living peacefully in the community, and as a result, I applaud the courts ruling.

  2. I’m not saying sex offenders can’t “live in the community”, I simply don’t understand why they need to live so close to a school or how that makes them homeless. 2,000 feet is not a long distance, THAT is what scares me. I admit I might have mixed up some amendments, or whatever it is you are calling me out for, but that’s not my main point. My main point is that, as a teenager, I don’t feel safe anymore. We can’t assume that every sex offender has turned his or her life around, we can’t assume that they no longer want to hurt children. We can’t assume that they want to live “peacefully” in our community. Maybe they do, but the point is that children and parents are uncomfortable with this. I know my dad is (not about the safety at Milken, but in general, this is just a scary thought).
    I’m not saying that sex offenders need to be locked away from the world, I’m not saying they need to be kept out of public places, I’m not saying all sex offenders are evil people. I’m simply stating that I don’t see how allowing them to live within 2,000 feet of a school or a park will make them homeless, because that was one of the main reasons why the ban was uplifted. I just don’t see how it’s a valid reason. Particularly with Milken, Berkely Hall, and Curtis, there aren’t many homes that are 2,000 feet or closer to these schools that I know of, clearly showing that no one really wants to live so close to a school.

    • 23200,
      You said that you don’t understand how the restriction makes sex offenders in LA homeless. Allow me to shed some light on the situation.

      Los Angeles is home to about 490 schools, 476 parks, 4 beaches, and countless other places where the “2000 feet rule” would be in effect.
      According to the California Secretary of State, Los Angeles is made up of 490.3 square miles.
      Of those 490 miles, approximately 220 of them are approved for residential use.
      Of those 220 square miles, about 140 of them are partially, if not completely covered by the “2000 feet rule”. (It’s because people like living near pretty things like parks and schools). That leaves just 14% of the city that sex offenders could live in.

      You mention the area surrounding Milken as an example of the fact that “no one really wants to live so close to a school”. The reason that the area surrounding Milken is so void of houses is because that section of the Mulholland Corridor is not zoned for residential use unless the home-builder follows incredibly strict rules.

      Also, the law was over-broad. It covered all sex criminals. According to studies done by the Guttmacher Institute, 1/2 of high school students have consensual sex before turning eighteen. That makes them, and their partners, a member of the class excluded from living near the restricted areas. As a result, half of students attending college would not be able to live on campus, because universities count to the government as schools.

      You claim that you are “uncomfortable” with the elimination of the rule. The First Amendment is designed to protect things that make people uncomfortable. If it wasn’t, abortion would be banned in the US, gay marriage would be universally banned (in the US), and there would have been no protests in for Israel. After all, those things make people uncomfortable too.

      I mentioned earlier that it’s a slippery slope between this ban, and other, more extreme bans. I’d like to know, irrespective of the current discussion, where is the point where we stop?

      If it makes you feel any better, there are no houses within 2000 feet of Milken and the nearest sex offender is 11,000 feet away, so the law never really affected us anyway.

  3. Good article, good information. I was not aware of this law and I’m glad it was brought to my attention

  4. this is a great article. thank you for shining some light on this very serious issue. i know my parents are worried about this as well, isn’t it scary to think that a sex offender could be watching me eating lunch at school?

  5. I was laughing as I read this article. Obviously sex offending is a horrible thing, but this article is ill-informed, paranoid and hysterical.

    Also:
    Good thing Sex Offenders can’t leave there homes, and where they live is exactly where they’re going to be at all times….

    And:
    As far as the homelessness thing, obviously impoverished sex offenders are not going to live in Bel Air. But this is actually a real thing. It does happen.

  6. Dear “Alex”,
    I can clearly see that you are passionate about this issue. If you are so willing to debate about this, I ask you to please discuss this with me during school. Considering you decided to look up more than enough data for one comment, I assume you wouldn’t mind discussing this in person. In the end, you can throw as much information at me as you please, but this is my opinion, and your data and “reassurances” are not going to change my opinion. Since you are so into this discussion, why not write a counter article? I’m sure the students and the parents at Milken would love to hear your view about this very serious issue.
    And Heythere, if your comment is published, I’m glad that my discomfort is humorous to you. Thank you for being sensitive to my opinion and to the opinion of many others who agree with me on this topic. When it comes to my safety, I think it’s fine for me to be a little paranoid about it, and I’m glad you find that my worries and my dad’s worries are “hysterical”. And I don’t know if sex offenders live in Bel Air, because I don’t live in Bel Air (you really shouldn’t assume these things). I’m not saying sex offenders can’t live in Bel Air, that’s a completely different topic that you’ve just brought up.

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