State spends millions on rents for paroled sex offenders, sometimes illegally

These guys should have just ordered a radius map from Air Miles map to find out how far these places were from schools and parks before they spent state money illegally.

By John Simerman
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 01/17/2009 04:35:06 PM PST

State corrections officials spent nearly $22 million last year on apartments and motel rooms for hundreds of paroled sex offenders, paying more than $2,000 a month for some parolees and housing others in locations apparently prohibited under Jessica’s Law, according to a MediaNews analysis of bank drafts issued by parole agents and addresses from the Megan’s Law sex offender database.

The housing assistance, which has run for more than two years for some parolees, highlights a dilemma state officials face trying to enforce a voter-approved ban on sex offenders living within 2,000 feet of a school or a park where kids "regularly gather." They must either find scarce housing and pay to put them up, or deal with a steeper rise in sex offenders who become homeless and lose the stability that experts call crucial to preventing recidivism.

A top state corrections official acknowledged that parole agents have sometimes spent state funds to house sex offenders in areas that officials later learned were illegal. He was unaware of some local examples MediaNews found using state data and a GPS handset:

  • In El Cerrito, a parole office has spent as much as $300 a week for sex offenders to live at the Budget Inn on San Pablo Avenue. The motel is within 700 feet of Mendocino Park, a neighborhood playground where small children swing, scramble through play structures and ride tricycles. A corrections spokesman said parole officials realized a few months ago that the motel violated Jessica’s Law and now they only pay for sex offenders to live there who are not subject to the 2,000 law…

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