Battin Amends Legislation to Deter the Placement of Sexual Offenders in Family Communities

Battin Seeks Increased Notification to Law Enforcement & Larger Buffer Zones to Protect Public from Potentially Dangerous Parolees

SACRAMENTO –Senator Jim Battin (R – La Quinta) announced today that he is amending his bill SB 277 to prohibit the placement of paroled sex offenders within one and one-half miles of a public park, day care, pre-school, public or private school, and would mandate that local law enforcement be given a 60 day notice before a sex offender parolee could be paroled into their jurisdiction.

Battin’s actions were prompted by the recent placement approximately one month ago of high risk sex offender David Allen Dokich into a populated Mead Valley area in close proximity to several schools. Despite the Department of Corrections’s (CDC) claim that they complied with the current 45 day notification law, a last minute location switch has state legislators questioning that claim. Battin and other lawmakers have attempted to address the issue administratively, but to no avail.

“Public safety – especially for our children – has to be our top priority. CDC claims they have complied with the letter of the law, but clearly they are not concerned with the spirit of the law.” Battin said.

Similar attitudes by the Department of Corrections years ago prompted Battin’s 1998 legislation that mandated the first sexual predator buffer zones ever established in California. “I originally sought a five-mile buffer zone away from schools,” said Battin.

“But the liberal Democrats who control the legislature amended it down to a quarter mile and threatened to kill my bill all together if that was not accepted,” he explained.

“Violent predators like Dokich who have proven a total disregard for human life should not be paroled in the first place, but when they are, we have a responsibility to California’s families to keep them safe and we are not taking that lightly. This bill brings some sensibility to the conditions in which these criminals are paroled,” said Battin.

The Dokich placement also prompted the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to pass a well intended, but unworkable ordinance. The ordinance is flawed because the County cannot constitutionally usurp State authority, and even if the ordinance were enforceable, it would likely have the unintended effect of forcing CDC to release a sex offender like Dokich into incorporated cities where there are more children, more schools, and more risks, because the county ordinance only applies to unincorporated areas of the county. Battin’s amendments, if passed, will apply statewide and protect all citizens equally.

“I understand their motivation and concerns; they are the same as mine,” said Battin, “But the fact is their ordinance, if enforced, would force CDC to place these dangerous predators into the very heart of nearby city limits and place other good people in danger. For the Supervisors to move forward without thinking something like this through unfortunately just gave a lot of good citizens a real sense of false hope. This is a state problem and should be handled by state legislators.”

Numerous legislators have stood up in support of the Battin bill to promote more sensible paroling of potentially dangerous and violent predators. Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R – Murrieta) is a joint author, and Senators Bob Dutton (R – Cucamonga) and Denise Ducheny (D – San Diego) and Assemblymembers John Benoit (R- Palm Desert), Russ Bogh (R- Yucaipa), Bonnie Garcia (R – Cathedral City), Bill Emmerson (R – Redlands) and Todd Spitzer (R – Orange) vowed to lend their support as principal co-authors.

“Time and again we have seen real reforms shot down by Sacramento politicians. Our communities will no longer stand by quietly while being victimized by the liberal leanings of Sacramento,” stated Bogh. “It is time for the legislature to reverse the trend of allowing our communities to be the hunting ground for violent sexual predators.”

“Finally we are bringing some common sense to the placement of sex offenders in our communities. This legislation moves us toward a more coordinated effort in the tracking of these parolees,” said Assemblywoman Garcia.Battin’s bill is currently in the Assembly and will soon be heard by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.