Bellflower Council Continues to Fight ‘Loitering’ Registered Sex Offenders

 By Tammye McDuff

 Bellflower city officials are continuing to clamp down on registered sex offenders who loiter on local streets.

 An ordinance has been approved by City Council members to amend portions of the Bellflower Municipal Code relating to loitering by registered sex offenders in order to align with California Penal code Section 653B which states:

 “Every person who loiters about any school or public place at or near which children attend or normally congregate and who remains at any school or public place at or near which children attend or normally congregate, or who reenters or comes upon a school or place within 72 hours, after being asked to leave by the chief administrative official of that school or public authority ….  Is a vagrant, and is punishable by a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in county jail  or a period not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

 The Code section describes the act of loitering as a means to delay, linger, or to idle about a school or public place without lawful business for being present.  Any person required to register as a sex offender who violates this Code is subject to fines, rejection of parole or imprisonment.

 The California legislature recognized that schools and other places where children congregate are areas that require heightened levels of protection. Because of these concerns, the legislature enacted California Penal Code Section 653b PC, which makes it a criminal offense to loiter in or around a school with an unlawful purpose.

 According to Michael E. Kraut, Managing Attorney at Kraut law Group “Loitering at or near a school is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 court fine. If the defendant is a person who is required to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290 PC, the maximum fine amount on a first conviction for loitering at or around a school increases to $2,000. If the defendant is required to register as a sex offender and has a previous conviction under California Penal Code Section 653b PC, he or she must serve a minimum of 10 days in jail. And if the defendant is required to register as a sex offender and has two or more prior convictions for loitering in or around a school, that person must serve a minimum of 90 days in jail custody.”

 According to the Homefacts directory for registered sex offenders, their database shows there are 91 registered sex offenders in Bellflower.  This is a ratio of 11.77 offenders per 10,000 residents. This is lower than the national average of 14.06 offenders per 10,000 residents.

Even with these statistics, the Bellflower crime index is 14% lower than the California average and 1% lower than the National average.

 

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