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Should Sex Offenders Be Able To Go To The Park? So Far Just One OC City Says Yes

Crescent Bay Park Point Park in Laguna Beach (Photo by digitizedchaos via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
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Last year Orange County passed a controversial law banning sex offenders from going to parks and beaches. The county's District Attorney lobbied for cities to do the same—and so far about half of the cities in the county have followed suit.

But one city bucked the trend and has actually voted to get rid of the rule. The Lake Forest City Council is the first city in Orange County to vote against banning registered sex offenders from parks, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The city's manager told the council that there is no evidence the ordinance actually keeps sex offenders out of city parks (as we noted before), but there is plenty of evidence showing that the rule creates legal headaches, according to the OC Weekly. About half of the cities that have adopted the ordinance are being sued.

The Superior Court overturned the conviction of a registered sex offender sentenced to 100 days in jail after attending a Cinco de Mayo celebration last year in Mile Square Park, according to the Los Angeles Times. It has asked the Court of Appeal to weigh in on the case and the law. The appeals court has until December 15 to decide whether or not to take the Mile Square case.

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A judicial panel wrote that it should be the duty of the state—not local jurisdictions—to make rules regarding sex offenders: "Such a patchwork of local ordinances poses tremendous risk to the offender who may not be aware of each regulation in each city, or indeed even know the precise location of city borders." In fact, one sex offender, Jean Pierre Nguyen who was arrested while playing tennis in Irvine last September claimed just this.

The Lake Forest vote isn't final. It requires a second vote by the council scheduled for December 18. In the meantime, both the Weekly and Times both note that Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has told deputies to stop enforcing the rule.

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