High-Risk Sex Offender Recommendations

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A panel of law enforcement, victims rights advocates, and legislators has released its recommendations to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the status of high-risk sex offenders. The report recommends a number of changes-- including a new definition of "high risk," more treatment, and even regular polygraph tests for this group of parolees.

The full report is here.

At a Capitol news conference this morning, members of the California High Risk Sex Offender Task Force said that they expect an answer from the Schwarzenegger administration in 90 days on the workability-- and cost-- of implementing the recommendations.

"These recommendations," said Assemblymember Todd Spitzer (R-Orange), co-chair of the task force, "will become the driving force for both public policy within the Department [of Corrections and Rehabilitation], as well as legislative policy and budgetary policy in the state Legislature."

The report estimates that about 2,000 of the 7,000 active sex offender cases in the state now involve parolees who are designated to be high-risk. And the report recommends expanding that designation. For example, "high risk" sex offenders would also include those parolees not convicted of sex crimes, but whose record indicates they may have been allowed to plead guilty to a lesser crime.

The task force estimated that its recommendations for expanding the designation of "high risk" sex offenders would increase that population from 2,000 to more than 3,000 currently on the streets.

Other noteworthy recommendations: giving victims 90 days notice before the high-risk sex offender is released... more assessment of these inmates before release... lower caseloads for parole agents who oversee these offenders... and polygraph tests for parolees to assess their "habits and offending patterns." That last recommendation seems particularly interesting, given that the report admits there are legal questions about forcing parolees to take a polygraph if the test happens to uncover any new crimes that might have been committed.

By the way, the report also dovetails with Proposition 83 on the November ballot in its call for lifetime GPS (global position monitoring) of sex offenders. Officials at this morning's event pegged the cost of GPS at about $23 per parolee, per day.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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