A Whole New Use For Parks: Driving Out Sex Offenders

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The insanity of laws that basically prohibit sex offenders from living anywhere is reaching new heights in Los Angeles. Several itsy-bitsy new parks are being built in the city, but not to give kids a place to play:

State law prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a park or school. By building the park, officials said, they would effectively force the sex offenders to leave the neighborhood. This section of Harbor Gateway has one of the city’s highest concentrations of registered sex offenders: 86 live in a 13-block area.

Los Angeles plans to build a total of three pocket parks with the intent of driving out registered sex offenders; two will be in [nearby] Wilmington.

This is the end result of policies that have made it impossible for sex offenders to live anywhere. As the rules have multiplied—you can’t live near a park, you can’t live near a school, you can’t live near a daycare center, etc.—there are fewer and fewer places where paroled sex offenders can live. The unintended result of this is that they end up crowding into the very few places left to them. Wilmington still has a few areas outside the welter of overlapping circles where sex offenders are banned, so hundreds congregate there in group homes and hotels that cater to them.

It’s pretty easy to see how even residents who are relatively tolerant of one or two sex offenders living nearby would be pretty unhappy over having hundreds dumped into their community. And they’d be especially unhappy that they’re getting dumped there precisely because their community lacks the amenities of richer neighborhoods. So now they’ve figured out a clever dodge to get rid of them.

This is craziness. I don’t really blame the residents of Wilmington or Harbor Gateway. Their frustration is pretty easy to understand. But it’s craziness nonetheless. The end result will be even further concentrations of sex offenders, and even more frustration. When does it stop?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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