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Riverside bolsters tracking of sex offenders

July 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Riverside County supervisors on Tuesday approved an enhanced plan to track all registered sex offenders before they strike again. Residents will now be notified when a sex offender moves nearby.The idea for the plan came in the wake of the Amber Dubois and Chelsea King cases.

Residents who sign up for the program will receive an e-mail or postcard when a sex offender moves into their neighborhood.

The program is called SPIRIT, which stands for Sexual Predator Identification in Riverside County through Internet Tracking. It was spearheaded by Supervisor Jeff Stone.

"Anybody that's going to come here is going to face the scrutiny of our county district attorney, our Sheriff's department, our code enforcement, and we're going to be monitoring them," Stone said.

Spirit will be run through the district attorney's office and goes much further than the current Megan's Law system, supporters said. It will list the exact address of every sex offender in the county.

Some of the new rules state that a sex offender:

  • Cannot live within 2,000 feet of a school, park or child care center.
  • Cannot loiter within 300 feet of a school, park, or child care center.
  • Cannot live with one or more sex offenders in a home or apartment.

The district attorney's office will now maintain an online map pinpointing the homes of convicted sex offenders.

Moe Dubois, father of Amber Dubois, spoke in favor of the changes.

"Riverside County is on the forefront of their policies, their procedures, their SAFE team task force," he said. "It's cutting edge as far as what we have in this state."

Last week, the community of Good Hope was in uproar over the possibility of convicted murdered Donald Schmidt being moved to a halfway house in the area. The 37-year-old was convicted of sodomizing and drowning a 3-year-old girl in a bathtub in the 1980s.

Schmidt would not have had to register as a sex offender because the sex crime was later overturned.

The D.A.'s office, along with the board of supervisors, fought the possibility of Schmidt moving there. It apparently worked because he will not be moving into the area.

Sex offenders are still a hot-button issue in Riverside County, especially after the body of missing Moreno Valley teen Norma Lopez was found. One of the theories is that she was attacked by a sex predator.


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