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Sex offenders forced to live on OC streets

April 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
In an Eyewitness News exclusive, predators and sex offenders camping out on streets just like yours. How is this all legal?Most of the homeless sex offenders are camped right around the parole office in Anaheim. What's happening here can be traced back, in part, to "Jessica's Law." It bans sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks.

As a result, sex offenders in Anahiem are often unable to find a motel or apartment that's in compliance with the law. Others simply can't afford one. So they're registered as "transient offenders" and they are assigned to certain streets in an Anaheim neighborhood.

The cars and recreational vehicles that line the streets in a northeast Anaheim neighborhood are not here by chance. They're all parked there by design.

That's because the men who live in them are not just homeless. They're also registered sex offenders, parolees who are assigned to live on these streets by their parole officers.

"Would you rather have us in a compliant place where we're there, inside, or would you rather have us roaming the city and streets at night," asked "Steve," a registered transient sex offender.

"There's all kinds of cuckoos that are in this area," said "Carlos," another registered offender. "We get thrown out here in the mix and we're on our own."

"We try hard to make it and they keep throwing loops at you," said "Tim," another registered offender. "We just keep jumping through the loops and doing what they want."

All three of these men are paroled sex offenders. None of them wanted to use their real names for fear of retaliation from their parole officers. But all three are among dozens of homeless sex offenders who live along Coronado Avenue in Anaheim.

"We learned that there were between 30 and 40 transient paroled sex offenders in this area," said Anaheim Police Lt. Julian Harvey. Harvey says his department has been dealing with this issue for the past several months.

"When Parole tells them, 'We want you in this area, we specifically want you on this street,' for example, 'after this hour of the day, we expect you to be within this radius,' it's almost -- they're telling them where to live," said Harvey.

"'Transient' is defined as a parolee who has an obligation to register as sex offender, and who has no residence," said Ken Ford, Calif. Dept. of Corrections chief deputy regional administrator.

Ford would not agree to an on-camera interview, but in a telephone interview Ford said the department has few options when the paroled sex offenders have nowhere else to go.

"Some of the people are indigent," said Ford. "So they probably didn't have housing in the first place. Some of these individuals just don't have any place to go because the residences they were staying in, or could stay in, are not compliant, and they don't have any other resources in the community."

"It's like living a double life," said "Tim," a registered transient sex offender.

Tim has a wife and child who live in Anaheim. But his house is not in compliance with Jessica's Law, because it's too close to a school. So he sleeps in his truck on the street. Otherwise he's in violation of his parole.

"Some people get to go home for a couple hours a day to shower and do all that, and other people are using other locations. They're bathing at the gas station," said Tim.

The fact that they are living on streets means that they are breaking the law in Anaheim. But local police say they try to deal with the situation as best they can.

"It's vagrancy. It's loitering. I mean, they have us breaking the law," said "Steve."

Local police say they're trying to deal with the situation as best they can.

"There's no simple fix," said Lt. Harvey. "A lot of business owners and residents are frustrated. We get it. We understand the frustration. But there is no quick solution to this problem."

The neighborhood is primarily industrial with no homes in the immediate area. But neighboring businesses have complained to police.


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