How come San Diego is the only city on the entire West Coast that does not allow sex offenders to enter a homeless shelter? Don’t believe it? Check out www.lawsuit.tk.
Well, I didn’t believe it, so I checked out the website in question and found it to be amateurish and filled with equal parts broken links and dubious information. From what I can gather, the group that built the website mounts a disorganized campaign against Megan’s Law, the catch-all term for federal and state rulings that have led to the creation and maintenance of sex-offender registries. Admittedly, registries have become increasingly controversial since their enactment.
This whole thing about homeless shelters seems more relevant in light of California Proposition 83 (aka Jessica’s Law), which put strict restrictions on where registered sex offenders could live. While the law has been criticized for pushing a large number of people into homelessness, there’s nothing in the law that specifically prevents sex offenders from checking into homeless shelters. San Diego’s municipal code is likewise silent on the issue. Popular sentiments and attitudes within law enforcement have begun to turn against Jessica’s Law and important court battles have been won on behalf of sex offenders claiming their homelessness was caused by the law. Its immediate future is uncertain.
Homeless shelters have been criticized for denying entry to registered sex offenders, but that only happened based on the prerogative of the individual shelters, not as the result of a state or local mandate. Registered sex offenders (or anyone else) are more likely to be denied access to a shelter because of lack of space than for any other reason.