Burt Prelutsky

This morning, my hometown newspaper, the L.A. Times, carried the headline “Fixes in Jessica’s Law Are Urged.” The sub-head read: “Tight residency curbs on sex offenders can leave them homeless and propel them to re-offend, a panel says.”

For those of you fortunate enough to live someplace where the Times isn’t your local daily, let me assure you that a similar news story runs nearly as regularly as Doonesbury and Dennis the Menace.

It dismayed me the first time I came across a story bemoaning the difficulty of finding homes for these perverts. By this late date, it leaves me seething with rage.

The state’s Sex Offender Management Board is urging Gov. Schwarzenegger and the state legislators to change Jessica’s Law, insisting that its restrictions on where sex offenders can live are counter-productive and calling the $25 million-a-year spent to house them, mainly in motels and halfway houses, a poor use of tax dollars.

The law, which was passed in 2006 with the approval of 70% of California’s voters, bars sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks and other areas where children gather. The Board is concerned that it drives the offenders “into homelessness, an unstable situation that can propel them back to crime.”

Scott Kernan, undersecretary for adult operations at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, announced that his agency is discussing plans to scale back its housing of sex offenders, some of whom have their rent paid for several years while they’re on parole.

Okay, first off let me say that some “sex offenders” shouldn’t be branded as such. If a 15-year-old girl decides to have sex with her 18-year-old boyfriend, I’d have to be even sillier than I am to suggest the guy should go to jail or have to spend the rest of his life under a black cloud. Heck, if anyone’s going to jail, it should probably be the young Jezebel. Everyone knows that 15-year-old girls are smarter and wilier than 18-year-old boys. In fact, as a rule, males don’t even begin to narrow the gap until they’re well into their 40s and 50s, and often not even then.

When I think of a sex offender, I have rapists and pedophiles in mind, as I suspect most people do. What’s more, I’m willing to wager that the reason that 70% of us voted for Jessica’s Law was out of frustration because the state doles out such light sentences to these creeps. The very idea of a pedophile being paroled is totally absurd. What’s he being rewarded for? Not raping any five-year-olds while he was behind bars?

What could be any more ridiculous, or demented, than declaring that a child molester can live 2,001 feet from a neighborhood playground, but not 1,999 feet? What’s to prevent him from going out his front door and talking a walk? What about the kid who doesn’t go to the playground, but tragically lives next door or around the corner from the monster? For such potential victims, the bogeyman isn’t a figment of his or her imagination, it’s that degenerate up the block.

As for the contention that being homeless or restricted as to where he can live would propel a man to molest a child, one can only shake one’s head and hope the double-strength Excedrin kicks in. A normal human being might feel driven by homelessness to rob a bank or knock over a 7-11, but molest a child? Who, aside from a bottom-feeding defense attorney, would even suggest such a rationale?

The Sex Offender Management Board has 17 members whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers. Frankly, I could do the job by myself and I wouldn’t even ask for a paycheck. I would simply go before the state legislature and tell them I had the perfect solution to the problem of housing rapists and pedophiles. You either execute them, I’d say, or keep them locked up in dungeons until they die and go straight to Hell.

Then, my mission completed, I would next pull off an honest-to-goodness miracle. I would resign, thus making the Sex Offender Management Board the first government bureaucracy in human history to actually disappear.




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