Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | September 26, 2006

At odds with editorial board

The weeks until the November general election are quickly dwindling – and so is the time left to study the baker’s dozen of statewide propositions that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot.

This week, I’m focusing on two controversial propositions that address unpleasant topics: Proposition 83, or Jessica’s Law, which creates new residency restrictions and monitoring requirements for sex offenders, and Prop. 85, which establishes a waiting period and requires parental notification before a minor can get an abortion.

I’m voting no on both measures, which puts me at odds with the recommendations of The Dispatch’s editorial board on these initiatives.

I’m really concerned about Prop. 83’s residency restrictions. If Prop. 83 passes, registered sex offenders would not be allowed to live within 2,000 feet of a school or park, just like an Iowa law enacted in 2001 that has so many unforeseen and unintended consequences that law enforcement officials are now actively campaigning to repeal it.

I’ve always wondered about these kinds of residency restrictions – they seem to make sense at first blush, but after a few seconds’ worth of thought, they make no sense at all.

The Iowa County Attorneys Association notes that “research shows that there is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses against children or improving the safety of children” and that “research does not support the belief that children are more likely to be victimized by strangers at the covered locations than at other places.”

“For us personally, it’s pretty much been a nightmare,” Sheriff Don Zeller, who is responsible for nearly 200,000 residents in eastern Linn County, Iowa, told Jason Kobely for a KXTV report, and who, along with other Iowa law enforcement officials, is asking state legislators to repeal the 2,000-foot residency restrictions. “We went from knowing about where 90 percent of the people were, to now, we’re lucky if we know were 50, 55 percent of the people were. I think it’s created a situation that does make it worse.”

According to California Attorneys For Criminal Justice (, a group that is opposes Prop. 83, “the initiative would force many offenders from urban to rural areas with smaller police forces. A high concentration of sex offenders in rural neighborhoods will not serve public safety.”

Clearly, Prop. 83’s residency restrictions are not in the best interests of residents of rural areas – like South County. South County residents ought to be very concerned if Prop. 83 passes.

In addition, the lifetime GPS tracking units that Prop. 83 requires of all sex offenders – not just those most likely to re-offend – is an expensive and dubiously effective way to prevent sex crimes. The state legislative analyst estimates that this clause of Prop. 83 will cost $100 million a year in 10 years, “with costs continuing to increase significantly in subsequent years.”

Prop. 85 is a rehash of last year’s Prop. 77, which was rejected by voters. Like fellow columnist Dina Campeau, I find myself wondering what it was about last year’s “No” that backers of this initiative don’t understand.

Prop. 85 would require parental notification of an abortion for a minor, which, of course, in an ideal world, would always happen.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. Instead, we live in a world, sadly, with incest, molestation and unwanted pregnancies. We live in a world where girls live in families in which they can’t seek permission from their abusers, or their abusers’ enablers, to end their pregnancies. We live in a world where girls live in families in which the suggestion of an abortion is cause for the familial equivalent of excommunication or worse.

Yes, Prop. 85 offers a route to obtain a judicial exemption for girls who are unable to notify their parents, but the girls who are most likely to need to use it are the same ones who are the least likely to have the means to do so.

In an ideal world, all girls would notify their parents before seeking an abortion. But in an ideal world, no girl would have an unwanted pregnancy, all girls would be free from incest and molestation, and all girls would have understanding parents to whom they could talk about anything.

We don’t live an ideal world and Prop. 85 doesn’t recognize that.

No on Prop. 83 and Prop. 85.



  1. […] I oppose efforts to make it more difficult for felons who have completed their sentences to vote. I worry about draconian Megan’s Law restrictions that make it difficult for sex offenders to find places […]

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