STATEMENT FROM THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY

 

OCDASeal Orange County District Attorney
Press Release

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Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

 

For Immediate Release
April 2nd, 2004

Thank you all for coming today.  Please allow me to introduce the distinguished guests that we are honored to have with us at the Orange County District Attorney Office.

  • Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona
  • State Senator and author of this initiative, Senator Dennis Hollingsworth
  • Assemblyman and former Orange County Deputy District Attorney Todd Spitzer
  • Assemblyman Lou Correa
  • Chief of the Bureau of Investigations, OCDA office, Don Blankenship
  • Assistant Sheriff Jo Ann Galisky
  • Ms. Debra Courtney from the D’Angelo foundation representing sexual assault victims
  • Fullerton Police Chief Patrick McKinley
  • Laguna Beach Police Chief James Spreine
  • La Habra Police Chief Dennis Kies
  • Buena Park Police Sergeant Mike Jones
  • CHP-Santa Ana Captain Steve Beeuwsaert
  • Costa Mesa Police Lieutenant John Fitzpatrick
  • UC Irvine Police Sergeant Lamine Secka
  • Tustin Police Lieutenant Joe Stickles
  • Santa Ana Police Captain George Saadeh
  • Westminster Police Lieutenant Bill Lewis

We are all gathered here this morning as advocates for a statewide initiative to expand Megan’s Law and mandate stricter penalties for sexual predators. The reason why Sheriff Carona, Senator Hollingsworth, Assemblyman Spitzer, Assemblyman Correa, leaders of Orange County law enforcement, and Ms. Courtney representing sex crime victims are gathered today, on Good Friday, taking time away from their busy schedules — is that we are all united in protecting our community from sexual predators.

As a prosecutor, I can tell you that this law will be a tremendous resource for law enforcement because it will help in our efforts to reduce victimization, prosecute sexual predators, and put away the offenders for longer prison sentences. As a father, I would like other dads and moms to be able to find out more easily whether a serious, high-risk offender is living next door or close to our children’s school.

What we are trying to do with this initiative is to catch California up to thirty-nine states that make it easier for citizens to stay informed.  Thirty-nine other states currently place information about sex offenders on the internet.

We all know that sexual predators offend over and over again. A recent report by the United States Department of Justice states that sex offenders are the least likely to be cured and the most likely to offend again.  Some 61 percent of those who are in prison for sex offenses are repeat offenders.  It is simply unacceptable that one out of four girls and one out of ten boys are molested.  We know that a sex offender will molest at least 30 times before he is arrested.  We know they will victimize hundreds over a lifetime, if not stopped.

California does have a form of Megan’s Law – and I know that these legislators have worked tirelessly to protect our children — but sadly, it falls short. Under our current Megan’s Law system, Californians must make an appointment with their local police department to access a computer database on sex offenders.  And if they find the time to make an appointment, the sex offender is listed by zip code, sometimes with a photo and a brief description of their level of risk to the community.

In addition, if you have specific identification information about a sex offender you can call a 900 number at a cost to you of ten dollars.  These hurdles are probably why, in a state of 35 million people, the database has only been accessed 250,000 times over the past decade.

The expansion of Megan’s Law would allow a concerned parent to access a much more detailed description of “serious and dangerous” and “high risk” sex offenders.

Let us look at how the system works in another state.

This is the New Jersey State Police Website, which by the way has had 1.4 million searches in the last two years.  By accessing the sex offenders’ site, which is maintained by the Department of Justice:

  • you can search by location all the way down to street address, 
  • you can also search by name,
  • by the type of vehicle or license plate number,
  • even physical characteristics such as a tattoo or pierced ear.

Once inside the system, there is a detailed description of the sex offender including a photo, exact address, and information on their prior sex offenses.

This information can be accessed at any time, from any computer, with internet access.  It is a tremendous tool for parents and law enforcement in our efforts to know who is living on our block and near our children’s schools.  The United States Supreme Court has found posting of this type of information constitutional.  It is clear that California must do more.