– Inland Outrage Sparks Initiative Against Sex Offenders –
SAN BERNARDINO — The Inland Empire is the most vast, spread-out metropolitan area in the nation. So for decades, the desire to elude the prying eyes of cops in densely populated cities has drawn criminals to Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Exacerbating the criminal migration, the relatively low cost of housing and lower density of surrounding residences also has led state agencies to place sex-offender parolees – and other persons who have committed sex crimes – in halfway houses, group homes and other living arrangements in Inland areas. The result is more than four million residents at higher risk of being victimized.
But with increasing economic and educational opportunities, a rising sophistication among the Inland electorate has put some pretty smart, pretty tough lawmakers into office to change the way government deals with problems. And as California voters are wont to do, when politicians don’t deal with problems, those uppity voters do it for them.
That’s where Jessica’s Law comes in.
BACKGROUND: In March 2004, the High Desert community of Phelan — with help from State Assemblywoman Sharon Runner and a threat of legal action by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors — successfully pressured the State Department of Developmental Services to scrap plans to place four developmentally disabled sex offenders in a state-licensed group home there. The reaction against that planned placement was so intense that bullhorn-wielding radio talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou — the highest-rated local radio talk show hosts in the nation — came calling. The Los Angeles duo from radio station KFI AM-640 pitched camp along with protesters outside the Desert Phoenix home and asked the State of California to explain to John and Ken’s mega-audience why these offenders should be allowed to live together in a neighborhood surrounded by children with families.
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