U.S. House passes Children’s Safety Act legislation

Daily Sundial

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The House of Representatives passed the Children’s Safety Act of 2005 on Sept. 14, which will make the registration process for sex offenders stricter and turn what has been a community-based issue into a federal government program.

The legislation, which is currently waiting review in the Senate pending final passage, was sponsored by Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, and included pieces of similar legislation proposed by numerous congressional lawmakers.

Michael Briggs, spokesperson for California Rep. Brad Sherman, D–27th District, where CSUN is located, said the Children’s Safety Act of 2005 is primarily targeting issues pertaining to sex offenders. Briggs said the bill has similarities to Megan’s Law, a 1996 California law that made information about sex offenders public, but he added that they are separate laws. That information was later put online.

Megan’s Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a child molester who had moved across the street from her family without their knowledge. All states now have some form of Megan’s Law or similar legislation that would apply, according to California’s Megan’s Law website.

Briggs said that according to the Congressional Research Service, the public policy research arm of the U.S. Congress, the Children’s Safety Act of 2005 would include new policies and guidelines that a sex offender must follow.

The legislation will establish a pilot program allowing the U.S. Attorney General to administer grants to states for electronic monitoring programs of sex offenders. The electronic monitoring program will use Global Positioning System, or GPS, technology to track sexual predators upon their release from prison. The legislation, as passed by the House, authorizes $30 million for this purpose.

The legislation allows non-compliance with notification law to be considered a federal felony, and will create a national database that will be made available to the public.

According to Briggs, Sherman proposed similar legislation during his first term in the House. As what often happens, Briggs said, Sherman’s legislation and behind-the-scenes work with colleagues helped build the consensus that ultimately resulted in the passage of the Children’s Safety Act.

According to Christina Villalobos, CSUN police spokesperson, there have been no recent complaints that are related to local sex offenders posing a threat to the public. She added that Anne Glavin, CSUN chief of police, has the discretion to notify the public when a serious or high-risk sex offender moves into or is thought to be in the community.

Vatsana Bilavarn, graduate student in special education, said she is torn about the issue of how to deal with sex offenders, despite not having any children. She said she believes in an individual’s right to privacy, but that sex offenders might have lost that right by committing their criminal acts.

“But then, I do believe sex offenders have no more right to privacy,” Bilavarn said. “They have lost their opportunity for privacy,”

Bilavarn said that personally the registry and any type of awareness would benefit her since she would be more conscious of her community. She said a problem that might arise with any type of registry is the fact that it might require the use of technology.

She said some people, particularly low-income families who could be targeted by a sex offender, may not be well informed about the registry or even be aware of any changes. She said some people, because of lack of knowledge or because they have no direct access to technology, could be victimized.

Michelle Smith, resident of Van Nuys, has one son in junior high school, one in elementary school, and a daughter in preschool. She said she strongly feels that there is no way to rehabilitate sex offenders.

“I believe that they (sex offenders) should be castrated or even automatically put to death,” Smith said.

Smith said the registry or any changes to the registry of sex offenders is a good idea, but future issues such as money or finances could come up.

“I don’t want (sex offenders) in my neighborhood and around children,” she said. “They can (commit the act) again.”

Smith said that as a parent her automatic reaction to a sex offender in her neighborhood would be anger. She said that there is a definite need for a sex offender registry so that community members can be aware that sex offenders are living near them.

“I think there is no way to rehabilitate people who have committed crimes (like this), especially to children.”

Jennifer De La Torre, an assistant director for the Associated Students Children’s Center, said that in her line of work, fingerprinting is essential.

She said the Children’s Center requires all its staff, even if an individual is just an intern or a volunteer, to get fingerprinted and checked out because they deal so closely with children.

De La Torre said the center also requires parents or legal guardians to fill out a form that allows the center to release a child only to an authorized individual.

“A child has to be signed in and out by a guardian,” De La Torre said.

De La Torre said she appreciated the system and the registry, but did not comment further on national legislation because she was unfamiliar with it.

Joanne Angeles can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.