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New OC rule aims to protect kids from registered sex offenders

March 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new ordinance is pushing to make it a crime for registered sex offenders to enter areas where children regularly gather in Orange County.

If the ordinance is adopted, it would limit where registered sex offenders would be allowed to go.

There are more than 3,000 registered sex offenders in Orange County alone. Under current law, there are some restrictions on where they can live, depending on the severity of their crime. Information as to where registered sex offenders live is available to the public on the Megan's Law website.

Under the new proposed ordinance, nearly 60,000 acres of county parkland would be completely off limits, including regional and wilderness parks, beaches, harbors, nature preserves, recreational trails and historic sites.

The child safety zone ordinance, which is proposed by the Orange County district attorney's office and O.C. County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, is an effort to further protect children from registered sex offenders by restricting access to places where children gather.

Sex offenders found in violation would be charged with a misdemeanor and could spend up to six months in jail and possibly face a $500 fine.

The proposal does not specify how the rule would be enforced. In public places like parks, people come and go as they please, and pinpointing who exactly is a sex offender could prove to be difficult.

Members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors were slated to consider the proposal at a meeting Tuesday morning. If the ordinance is approved, it would go on the agenda in April for adoption.